What Are The Best Ways For A Runner To Prevent And Improve Plantar Fasciitis?
Runners are athletes prone to developing plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the common cause of heel pain due to the wear and tear on the plantar fascia. According to statistics, 10 percent of runners will most likely experience this in the duration of their careers. However, this might be a conservative estimate. All over the US, 2 million Americans are suffering from the condition.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Before we discuss treatments and preventions, it is a good idea to learn a thing or two about plantar fasciitis. As the name suggests, it’s an inflammation in the plantar fascia, a connective tissue found at the bottom of your foot.
Plantar fascia’s role is to provide support by the arch of your foot. It also serves to connect the heel bone to the metatarsals. Based on studies, it carries around up to 14% of the foot’s load. It acts as a shock absorber on your feet.
According to new research, plantar fasciitis is more than just inflammation. There are signs of microscopic anatomical changes that take place on the structure of the connective tissue.
There are common scenarios that trigger the condition. Mostly, it’s due to the wear and tear process that the foot. Because of this, runners are prone to having plantar fasciitis. Other than athletes that are required to perform high impact movements on their feet, overweight non-athletes are also at risk of experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Aside from the wear and tear, anatomic structure of your foot is also a factor. There are types of feet that are more vulnerable to having plantar fasciitis. Flat feet and those with high arches are the ones commonly affected by this condition.
Symptoms usually start as a mild pain by the heel. For runners required to perform regular day to day long distance running regimen, it is also a common symptom to notice tightness by the calf muscles. It is also common to feel discomfort the first time you step your foot on the ground in the morning.
For those who suffered from plantar fasciitis for quite some time, it is also not common that other parts of the body are affected. Hip, knees and back problems are usually associated to chronic plantar fasciitis because of how the body compensates its movement.
Treatment and prevention
It is important for runners and athletes to take both preventive and reactive measures in order to lessen the discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis. The good news, these treatments and preventions are non-invasive in nature and could even be done at home.
1. Running on soft surfaces
One of the reasons why runners develop plantar fasciitis is because of running on hard surfaces. Instead of running on the road, it’s a good idea to run on soft surfaces instead.
A good alternative to attenuate the impact on the feet is to run on grass. However, if you opt to run on grass, it is important that you pay close attention to the uneven level of the ground which could cause other types of injuries.
Aside from the football field, another safest option is to run on a synthetic track. Modern facilities are now catering a synthetic track for runners. It’s usually a place where you can sprint and do all types of workouts but with less impact on the plantar fascia and the feet in general. But of course, this isn’t a perfect option. Not all training centers provide this type of facility. Also, you have to consider that the two curves every lap can be stressful to both hips and knees in the long run.
2. Trying other form of workout
It’s a common mistake by runners to simply run and forget other forms of training regimen. Runners can develop stamina and explosive movements via different types of exercises. Swimming is a great way to develop stamina without putting your feet into so much stress. This is a common practice for a lot of athletes. For instance, boxers these days are implementing swimming on their strength and conditioning regimen to develop lung capacity and improve heart rate.
Other than swimming, runners can also hitting the weights room to strengthen their legs, hips and improve attributes needed for running without putting stress on their feet.
3. Foot taping
One of the things gaining traction in the world of sports today is kinesio taping. Physiotherapists make use of kinesio tapes for different purposes. In fact, we’ve seen a lot of athletes with kinesio tapes during the 2016 Olympics. Kinesio tapes can be placed on an injured part of the body for 24 hours a day and it could help in the healing process of injured areas.
Its benefits range from muscle support to swelling reduction. KT tapes can be used for athletes that have experienced plantar fasciitis. It can help support the plantar fascia by extending the KT tape to 50% connecting the upper part of the foot all the way into the heel.
4. Wearing the right type of shoes
For runners, it is important to have the right type of shoes. The right kind of shoe will not only promote the best performance, but also help prevent injuries as well. A simple wet test will give you an idea what type of shoe you should be using. Talking to an expert in a shoe store will provide you with the best option. As rule of thumb, the shoe should offer the right amount of support on your foot especially in your mid foot. Not only does it help lessen the impact, the right shoe can also correct the way you run.
5. Stretches and massages
A good way to help alleviate heel pain as well as calf tightness caused by plantar fasciitis is by performing basic stretches and massages. Regular stretch and massage can help relax and increase the circulation in the calf muscles. It can also help warm up the plantar fascia.
To give the calf muscles a good stretch, straighten your legs and reach the bottom of your feet. If you can touch your foot, give it a tug towards you. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. As for the plantar fascia, you can stretch by tugging the toes towards you.
A good way to massage the plantar fascia is by stepping on either a golf ball or a tennis ball. Do this every morning to lessen the pain of stepping first thing in the morning.
6. Ice packs and ice buckets
A good way to lessen the stress on your feet and enhance recovery in general is to place your feet in an ice bucket right after a hard training session. A good alternative is to roll your foot on a water bottle that came straight from the fridge.