From Sydney West Sports Medicine, NAB RunWest Injury Management specialists; https://swsm.com.au/contact/
It’s a long and complicated name for that annoying heel pain. Unfortunately, Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common running injuries we see in the clinic. Anyone who has suffered from it will know of the painful “morning shuffle” – those first few steps of the day that feel like you are stepping on LEGO pieces.
The name Plantar fasciitis comes from the fibrous band underneath your foot which attaches to the heel bone. Pain occurs when the fibrous band becomes irritated at the heel bone – usually due to a change of load. Read on for some helpful tips to make that heel pain history:
Manage Your Training Load
Steadily increasing training load is what builds resilient and injury free runners. It gives tissue time to adapt to the demands being placed on it. Each week you should aim to work between 80-120% of the previous weeks load. An easy way to monitor this is by recording your steps per week. This is only getting easier to do with nearly every phone or watch having a high-quality step counter built into them.
Get Those Calves Big and Strong
Strong calf muscles will go a long way in improving strength through the foot and ankle. If pain is bad try starting with both feet on the floor raising up on to the toes. As pain settles the goal is to increase that load with best results achieved under high load (Rathleff et al 2014). Try progressing to one leg off a step and even holding some dumbbells by your side. This particular calf raise variation was shown to be particularly helpful.
Stretch, Trigger and Roll
Stretching the calf and the plantar fascia can certainly help to alleviate pain and improve the mobility of the ankle and foot. It can also be helpful to use a spiky ball and roll out the calf muscles and the foot.
Check Your Shoes
Make sure your current pair of training shoes have not seen too many kilometres. Most shoe manufacturers suggest changing shoes approximately every 1000km or so but it will vary from runner to runner. Regularly check the wear on the sole of the shoe as well as if any compression lines are forming at the cushioning at the heel (look from side on). For those running most days it is good to alternate between two pairs of shoes to give the shoes more time to spring back.
If you are unsure what shoes are best for your running style it is best to get a running analysis done by a trained professional.
Taping, Inserts and Orthotics
Taping and inserts can be helpful in the short to medium term and may assist with pain relief. They are best used in conjunction with a strength and flexibility program as well as addressing training load issues. For those that have found taping and inserts helpful then there may be benefit in discussing fitting orthotics with your physiotherapist or podiatrist for long term use.