Plantar Faciitis – Treatment

Again, I turn to the pros around me for some guidance.  Please read on for treatment for our nagging foot friend plantar faciitis as explained by my PT friend Jessica Garcia:

“Running gives us a lot of time to reflect on who we were, who we are and who we want to be.  The way we answer these questions can be tied to people that have somehow impacted our lives.  For me one of these people was my father. I’m sure at this point you are wondering has she lost her mind;  What does this have to do with plantar fasciitis?  Well let me see if I can show the connection between the two.  My father was a clinical psychologist and a college professor.  Every year when he taught abnormal psychology he would begin the class with a warning.  He would tell the students that when they heard the signs and symptoms of each condition they would be convinced that they suffered from that ailment.  They would stress about what it meant and what they should do about it without even knowing if their “self-diagnosis” was even remotely accurate.   The same can be said for many running injuries and plantar fasciitis is one of them.   So before you stress yourself out and retire from running lets determine if you actually have plantar fasciitis and if so what you can you do for it on your own and when you should seek professional help?

Plantar fasciitis can present in many different ways but the hallmark symptom is “morning pain”, sharp heel pain with the first few steps after awakening.  If you consistently experience this then odds are that what you are dealing with is plantar fasciitis.  Now that you have made the self-diagnosis you may as well try some self-treatment home remedies.

The first and easiest thing to do is to make sure that your feet are always well supported.  That means first and foremost….no barefoot, especially on tile or hardwood floors.   Shoes should have a decent arch support in them. Sneakers and certain shoe brands have them built in but if you need to wear dressier shoes, or cute ones as I like to do, you can just put an arch support in your shoe.   And in regards to running, make sure that your shoes are properly fit and that they are not worn.

The second thing that you can try is some home exercises.   You should perform stretching exercises of your calf daily, making sure to get both muscles that comprise the calf, as well as the plantar fascia.  There is also a special sock that you can purchase that holds the ankle and forefoot in a position of slight stretch to prevent the plantar fascia from contracting.  This provides a passive stretch over a longer period of time and even helps to strengthen the foot’s arch. I have even made my own no-sew version of this sock and found it equally effective.  Strengthening exercises for plantar fasciitis are not usually necessary for athletes but it is beneficial to do some strengthening of the plantar fascia through exercises such as towel scrunches and marble pick-ups (with your feet).

Another home treatment that has been shown to be helpful is icing and rolling.  Ice is used as a vehicle for reducing inflammation and providing relief.  Manipulating the tissue of the plantar fascia is an approach that’s become more popular among runners recently. Using a golf ball or other hard, round object, you can “roll out” your arch much like you’d roll out your quads or calves with a foam roller,  taking care not to press too hard on the injured area. You can even combine the two by rolling on a frozen bottle, especially one with ridges.

Runners can help themselves the most by being smart with their training because mistakes here can lead to many injuries including plantar fasciitis.  Common errors include sudden increases in training mileage or elevation, beginning speed work too quickly or when pain is present, running on hard surfaces or simply overtraining.  All of these mistakes can be avoided by following a well-thought-out, progressive program.

Most cases of plantar fasciitis cases can be treated without a doctor.  It is important to see a doctor early on if you begin experiencing numbness in your feet or heels, fever along with the pain of plantar fasciitis, or if you start experiencing pain even when you’re not putting weight on the affected areas.   Additionally, if your heel pain has lingered for months or is particularly intense, as much as I hate to say it, it may be time to go.   You don’t want to wind up limping grumpily before you realize just how bad it’s gotten.   If it’s bad enough to ruin your running, it may be worth the doctor co-pay!”

  • Jessica Garcia is a PT in Paramus, NJ and has her own practice – Ultimate Motion

 

Coach Nick:

As you can see, I have a group of professionals working with me that is outstanding! Please sign up for my newsletter for more running tips, tricks, upcoming races, etc. and like my facebook page.   Links:       Facebook page       Newsletter

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