Plantar Fascitis A Common Runner’s Ailment

Plantar fascitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament-like muscle band that runs from the heel of the foot to the ball of the foot. The plantar fascia provides the foot with the support necessary to lift the foot off the ground and is necessary for balance and foot stability.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the inflammation of the plantar fascia. First of all, wearing bad shoes that provide little or insufficient support to the arch and heel does not help. Secondly, poor foot mechanics such as pronation or suppination strain the plantar fascia either by overstretching it (from pronation) or pulling it too tight (from suppination and no stretching). Finally, over-training with either of the previous factors is the breaking point. It’s possible to get away with wearing bad shoes if you run only once in awhile, yet over-training and even just running regularly without the right shoes or proper form is definitely dangerous to your feet and a threat to your knees and lower back.

The first and most popular remedy is ICE. If your plantar fascia is inflamed, ice it every evening until the inflammation is reduced. If you feel the need to run and only feel the pain after you run, definitely ice immediately afterwards. A popular icing tool is a bag of frozen peas. The peas mold around your foot as you ice and can be placed back in the freezer to be ready for use the next day.

Secondly, you must stretch your calves and feet. Try doing a calf stretch before you get up from your desk to walk around or at least stretch 3 to 4 times a day. By keeping these muscles supple, you avoid unwanted strain on your plantar fascia. Try rolling your foot over a golf ball to keep the muscles in your foot from pulling themselves into tight bands.

Take an anti-inflammatory such as Aleve or some other form of Ibuprofen . This will help reduce the swelling and take your mind off of the pain.

Change your shoes. Since most plantar fascitis cases are caused by improper foot mechanics, use only those running shoes that help to correct these mechanical problems. Make sure the shoe provides arch support if you are a pronator and extra cushion on the outside of the foot if you suppinate. Nike’s Air Triax , Saucony’s Grid or Procyon , and New Balance’s Addiction have all been mentioned as good shoes for people who suffer with plantar fascia problems.

If you have already purchased the correct shoes and still feel pain, consider getting heel cups or orthotics. These can be purchased either by prescription with a mold of your foot from a podiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist or at a drug store for less money and without a mold since they are mass produced by companies such as Dr. Scholl’s. If you think your foot pain is only a minor issue, perhaps you should try the drug store brand first and then turn to the health professional if the problem worsens or does not get any better.

If none of these remedies seem to work, your plantar fascitis might be serious, requiring specialized attention. Some people have undergone cortisone shots to help ease the pain and others have undergone foot surgery.

You may also want to consider trying a night splint (can be purchased from Road Runner Sports ) to prevent further stress on the arch while you sleep.

Others have experienced benefits from acupuncture, friction massage, chiropractic work and hydrotherapy.

Lastly, remember to rest. Give your feet a break and let them heal. Try taking up a new exercise activity such as swimming or bicycling – these sports put a lot less strain on the foot than running.

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