Everyday I get asked the same question about Plantar Faciitis and I always give the same advice. These are the steps that I have used to rid myself of the ailment and they are what I recommend to all of my customers. I am no doctor and will not pretend to be. If the condition is too severe to run on go seek professional help.
The first thing I look for when a customer comes in with PF is whether or not they are in the right size shoes. If the shoe is too small it can prevent the foot from having adequate room to swell causing the foot to tense up because there is no room. Running on a tense foot that is unable to naturally spread makes the plantar fascia more susceptible to tears. A podiatrist goes more into this in an article featured in Running Times.
After ensuring that the customer is in the right shoe I start to explain the steps I’ve taken to beat this problem.
1) Keep your calf muscles stretched out. –“The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is very tight calf muscles which leads to prolonged and / or high velocity pronation of the foot. This in turn produces repetitive over-stretching of the plantar fascia leading to possible inflammation and thickening of the tendon. As the fascia thickens it looses flexibility and strength.” In the store we have many tools to assist with loosening the calves. They include the foam roller, the stick, and our newest addition the Trigger Point Kits.
2) Warm up the fascia before taking that first step in the morning. This is easy to do if you keep a golf ball or tennis ball along with a dish towel by the bed. when you wake up place the ball on the ground and gently roll your foot over it, by doing so you will break up any scar tissue that might have formed throughout the night and will cause the blood to start circulating through the fascia. Next take the dish towel and stretch your foot and your calves by holding both ends and pulling your foot towards you. By doing this you ensure that when you start walking you aren’t doing so on a tight, un-stretched foot.
2B) Another use for this dish towel is foot strengthening. Place the towel flat on the ground longways and place your heel at the end of the towel. Next, use your toes to bunch up the towel until you reach the very end then repeat this exercise 10x on each foot. Strengthening your feet is good for many reasons, but for PF it helps you maintain better control of the foot.
3)This one is very easy and needs little explanation. Freeze a water bottle and roll your foot over it, you get the same results as the tennis/golf ball trick with the added bonus of ice.
4)If all of these steps don’t help I have the person try an orthodic for extra support or a Strassburg Sock that will allow the foot to be in a stretched position throughout the night. Both of these are last ditch efforts before sending someone to see a doctor.
Plantar Faciitis is a very common problem that can be treated fairly easily if you take care of it when the pain first appears. A good rest day and a few dollars invested can save you from costly time away from training and a dreaded trip to the doctor.
I wrote this in hopes that my running friends will have something to look at if they forget the steps I mentioned in the store. Again I am not a doctor, just someone who has suffered through this problem a few times before finally taking the necessary steps to heal. If you have any questions for me feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org