Again! I have seriously had enough of plantar fasciitis! This is the second time in two years I’ve been sidelined with this painful and annoying ailment. Once was enough for me, but alas here we are again. No one wants stabbing pain in their heel. If you have never experienced plantar fasciitis, consider yourself lucky! Approximately 2 million people are treated for this condition every year.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel. Specifically it is an inflammation of the plantar fascia or the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, and supports the arch of your foot.
Runners often talk about plantar fasciitis, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it. This is because runners, well, they run and repetitive impact activity like running and sports are a risk factor to developing plantar fasciitis. While generally plantar fasciitis develops without a specific, identifiable reason, risk factors that make one more prone to the condition include:
- Tighter calf muscles (developing your calf muscles is a side effect of running)
- A very high arch or flat feet
- Standing or running for long periods of time (repetitive impact activity)
- New activity or increasing activity levels too quickly (i.e. upping your running miles too quickly)
- Improper running stride (i.e. over-striding or heel striking – see Runner’s World for more on this)
- Wearing shoes without proper support – either not properly fitted or worn out (good quality shoes are only good for 300 to 500 miles)
The podiatrist yesterday actually complemented me on my calves as he was examining my feet. I’ll admit I had a surge of pride and a voice in my head saying, “Damn right, I’m a runner!” He went on to criticize my sneakers because while I was fitted for them and they are great shoes, they can be easily bent in half now. This is a sure sign that they are outside of their useful lifespan and therefore doing my feet more harm than good. Hearing this definitely brought my ego down a bit, cancel surge of pride.
What can you do to prevent plantar fasciitis?
- Stretching both your calves and plantar fascia, daily on a regular basis (active.com has a nice tutorial on some of these stretches)
- Wear proper footwear while running
- Wear proper footwear while not running (unfortunately flimsy shoes are never good for you)
- Always increase an exercise program or running program gradually, even if you’ve done the distance before work up to it again.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
I sidelined myself for the last week and a half, nursing my left foot with rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, and stretches while waiting to get in to see a new podiatrist. Yesterday, the doctor promised to have me back to running in a week’s time. I am counting. A week more would be far less than the month I was out last time in 2012. Fingers crossed. I’m anxious to get running again and cross-training again.
Have you ever had plantar fasciitis? How long did your recovery take?