I have a new injury I recently developed. I thought I would share my findings for other sufferers of this common ailment: Plantar Facsiitis (pronounced fa-shee-eye-tiss). No, it's not some skin-eating infection; it's heel pain. Actually, it's excruciating pain at the juncture between your arch and the heel. It's so bad I can barely walk, especially first thing in the morning. It feels like a knife has been jabbed into my foot. After my week off from my cold, I noticed a little ache in my arch after my Monday easy run. Then, my massage therapist worked on it, trying to "break up" the tissue (it's a thick band of tissue, much like the IT band). This, of course, made it sore. And then, I ran on the track last night, sealing my fate. Oh, and my running shoes haven't been replaced since October. And, I threw out the insert for arch support in my regular shoes. Did I mention I have high arches? All I know is that today I can't walk. Clearly, I caused a major flare-up. Add all this together, stir and Whallah! A new running injury!
What is the Plantar Fascia?
A band of connective tissue that runs from the base of the heel to the toes
What does it feel like?
Stabbing or aching pain at the base of the arch
Often worse in the morning
How do you get it?
- extremely high or low arches (check on the high part)
- sudden increase in running mileage (check on both)
- bad running shoes (check--mine are old)
- poor biomechanics (running on the balls of your feet, for instance---hmmmm.)
- running on hard surfaces (like the track?)
How do you treat it?
- RICE at onset (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Decrease running mileage (absolutely no hills or speed work) and focus on alternative sports (swimming and biking, for instance)
- Roll a golf ball under your foot or tennis ball (ouch!). Put it in the freezer to ice at the same time.
- Wear supportive shoes with arch support at all times (no going barefoot! no flip flops!)
- Massage (I am tempted to try acupuncture too; just a thought).
- See a podiatrist or sports medicine specialist if pain does not improve in 3 weeks (I swear by orthotics!)
- Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sit down, and place the affected foot across your knee. Using the hand on your affected side, pull your toes back toward your shin until you feel a stretch in your arch. Run your thumb along your foot--you should feel tension. Hold for a count of 10.
- Achilles Tendon Stretch: Stand with your affected foot behind your healthy one. Point the toes of the back foot toward the heel of the front foot, and lean into a wall. Bend the front knee and keep the back knee straight, heel firmly planted on the floor. Hold for a count of 10.
- Don't forget the calves--tight calves can exacerbate it too