Preventing Planter Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain in runners. It involves irritation and damage of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. The hallmark presentation of this injury is having a sharp pain around the arch of the foot on the first step. This type of pain can come and go as your activity increases and decreases. We usually hear patients or clients tell us once they aren’t using the foot such as being seated, driving, or even standing in once place, the pain comes back.
There are a few common things we find that will be culprits to this type of pain:
- Strength of the small muscles in the foot is reduced.
- Tight calves will increase tension on the plantar fascia and reduce the ankles mobility.
- The foot's ability to move due to the structure of the arch, think high or flat arches.
- Stiffness in the big toe- Upward movement is very commonly limited.
- The function of the hips can increase the demand of the plantar fascia if it is not helping in the running/walking stride.
We also have to consider things don’t look at the body directly such as mileage changes, footwear, and terrain changes. If you feel any of the non-biomechanical reasons may be an issue, please confer with your running store or coach and see what modifications can be made.
From a physical standpoint, the best way to prevent Plantar Fasciitis is to obviously correct the causes by performing stretches and exercises to correct any of these above dysfunctions. Off loading the arches by modifying the footwear can be a great way to get over the pain as well. If you have flat feet, the right orthotic may be beneficial. With high arches, manual therapy can help reduce the rigidity and tightness of the foot/arch. Lastly, strengthening of the glutes and hamstrings (along with hamstring flexibility) are vital to proper push-off mechanics during running.
If you are, or someone you know is struggling with Plantar Fasciitis, conservative treatment usually does a great job of freeing you from your pain. At Elevate we attack this injury with the top soft tissue techniques, will find the right exercises for you, and provide supportive interventions (taping or footwear modifications) to treat the pain and prevent it from coming back. These methods have been successful time and time again; they are the top conservative treatment methods running-related overuse injuries.