Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia is torn or otherwise damaged. The plantar fascia is a long fibrous band that stretches along the bottom of your feet and works with the Achilles tendon to help you run efficiently. Injuries to the plantar fascia or plantar fasciitis are among the most common foot injuries for runners with roughly 10% of regular runners experiencing it at some point during their lives.
What causes plantar fasciitis
Most medical professionals agree that plantar fasciitis is caused by extreme pressure on the arch. This usually happens when runners are wearing footwear that doesn’t properly support their arch. Overly tight calves also make it more difficult for the plantar fascia to do its job, increasing the risk of plantar fasciitis.
How to tell if you have plantar fasciitis
If you’re not sure whether you’ve got plantar fasciitis or another heel injury, you can test it by standing on your toes. A regular heel injury will hurt less when you’re standing on your toes but plantar fasciitis will actually hurt more.
How to treat plantar fasciitis – home remedies
There are several simple ways you can treat plantar fasciitis at home:
- Ice it – Ice will reduce the inflammation and help reduce the pain. You may also want to alternate the ice with a heat pad if the pain is particularly severe.
- Switch your footwear – Get shoes with a highly supportive arch or shoes with removable insoles so you can add orthotics. A doctor can help you figure out what type of orthotics will work best for your pain. Scholl Orthaheel orthotic inserts are ones we recommend often. If you run frequently or tend to go on long runs you also want to be replacing your shoes more often, once every 3-5 months, to keep your feet properly supported. Yes, this gets expensive, but it’s not as expensive as dealing with a long term heel condition.
- Take ibuprofen – Ibuprofen is the only over the counter inflammatory and is particularly good for dealing with plantar fasciitis and other muscle pain.
- Do regular stretching and strengthening exercises – Stretching shouldn’t only happen right before you run. Make sure you’re stretching out your legs, especially your ankles and feet, at least once a day, even on your days off.
- Walk differently – Shorter strides put less tension on the plantar fascia and can help you recover, especially when you’re getting used to new footwear.
- Get a deep tissue massage – Massages aren’t only for your back. In fact, regularly getting a deep tissue massage for your calves and feet muscles can help relax the plantar fascia and reduce pain. You can purchase a massaging device or even use a foam roller for DIY massage on a budget.
- Rest your feet – This one can be hard for running fanatics but sometimes it really is the only solution. Lie down, put your feet up and let them relax. If your work environment requires you to spend a lot of time on your feet make sure you’re resting them as soon as you get home.
- Wear night braces – Night braces help stretch your calves out and give them proper support when you’re sleeping. Many people sleep in odd positions that aren’t necessarily good for them and this can be a big cause of tight calves and ankle/heel muscles. This is often a major cause of chronic plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common conditions among runners but it’s also one of the easiest to deal with—it’s really just about taking better care of your feet and wear the right shoes. You will have to take some time away from the track but if you use all of the strategies above together you’ll be back to running in a few short weeks.