If you happen to be an avid runner that pounds the pavement on a regular basis, then you’re no stranger to pain and you’ve probably come to accept it as an inescapable part of your hobby. One of the many potential problems that may develop due to the repetitive strain of regularly logging significant mileage is plantar fasciitis, which is generally considered the most common cause of heel pain.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your feet and connects the heel bone to the toes. It’s designed to absorb many of the stresses we put on our feet, but too much pressure or strain from running can go on to damage the tissue and lead to inflammation in that area.
This inflammation results in the most typical symptom of plantar fasciitis, a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot near the heel that tends to be worse with the first few steps of the day in the morning or after extended periods of standing. It’s particularly common in long-distance runners, but can stem from repeatedly performing any weight-bearing activities or being on your feet for most of the day. People who are overweight, over the age of 40 or who have high arches or flat feet are also at an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
As with any other painful condition, trying to push through or ignore plantar fasciitis can go on to cause chronic (long-term) heel pain and may result in pain in other parts of your body if you alter the way you walk. Most cases of the condition will resolve if certain actions are taken, and Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends the following strategies to tackle plantar fasciitis:
- Limit or completely stop the activity that led to pain in the first place
- Avoid walking around barefoot, which puts more strain on the foot
- Ice the bottom of your foot for 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day
- Purchase a new pair of supportive shoes with good arch support
- If your pain doesn’t improve within a few weeks after following these home remedies, see a physical therapist; treatment usually includes:
- Stretching exercises, such as the calf stretch and plantar fascia stretch, to improve the flexibility of your ankle and plantar fascia
- Strengthening exercises to build strength in your lower leg muscles, which stabilize the ankle and heel
- Deep tissue massage to release muscle tension and reduce pain
- Taping of the foot for short-term relief
- Education on preventing future issues, such as replacing shoes regularly, stretching before/after exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight
Plantar fasciitis can be a debilitating and bothersome condition for runners and non-runners alike, but it can be managed by closely following a treatment program from Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates. Call 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC.