Treating Plantar Fasciitis

Runners Heel Pain - Treating Plantar Fasciitis

The long and short of it is that Plantar Fasciitis is a malady of your foot's arch caused by, at least in my case, one or all of the following:

  • Tight calf muscles
  • Improper footwear
  • Over training

My experiences with this foot malady: when you get out of bed in the morning and your heels hurt like heck, you probably have PF. Yes, there are maladies known as heel spurs, which I am sure you have read about in researching your pain. Do not consider heel spurs as your problem until you have assessed this article. Don't worry, PF will go away, and usually without the surgeons scalpel!

Who gets PF...athletes and fashionistas. Athletes because of intense training/footwear issues and fashionistas because of their choice in fashion footwear.

What is it?

The Plantar Fascia is the arch muscle attached to the Achilles tendon (top and around the heel) to the forefoot. When it becomes stretched from overuse and poor footwear, it becomes inflamed and painful. The plantar fascia contracts and relaxes when you sleep at night. When you get out of bed and start walking, you stretch the inflamed fascia and the result is pain.

How to prevent it:

  • Athletes, especially runners, need to pay special attention to their Achilles tendon and calf muscles. Workouts and races should be preceded by a gentle massage of the complete lower leg followed by light stretching. Calf stretching on an incline board is my favorite exercise to loosen calf muscles which relax the Achilles and the plantar fascia. Do not over stretch!
  • Running shoes should have adequate arch support, which prevents the plantar fascia from stretching under stressful foot pounding and striding.
  • Monitor your training intensity. As runners become more fit, more intense workouts (harder foot strike, over striding and a shift to racing flats from training shoes) can result in a greater risk of PF.
  • Consider wearing orthotics in your athletic shoes. They support your arch and minimize trauma to the fascia.
  • As for you fashionistas, since high heels can be problematic and do not accommodate orthotics well, wear heels infrequently. You can wear orthotics in your flat shoes. They should help you.

How to Deal With It:

  • Reduce or eliminate your training.
  • Place an arch support in your shoes...over the counter inserts or custom orthotics to relieve the pain of walking.
  • When sleeping, keep you bed covers loose over your feet as you lay on your back. This reduces the covers from pulling down your toes and collapsing your arch. When you get out of bed with this collapsed arch, the heel pain intensifies as you walk and your foot straightens.
  • A remedial exercise I found helpful is icing my lower foot bottom while sitting with feet on the floor. Additionally I use a frozen soda can or water bottle as a modified roller. I simply roll my arch over the frozen item for several minutes, rest without ice, and repeat.
  • Also in a seated position with feet on the floor, I walk my foot foreword and backward by using my toes to pull my foot forward and push back in a clawing motion. This exercises the fascia, Achilles and calf. Do this exercise as often as you can for several minutes, rest and repeat.
  • I have also taken a limited dose of ibuprofen, usually at the first sign of the malady.

It could take a few days to a few weeks for PF to subside. Often it dissipates as fast as it came on. Be patient. If your patience runs out or the pain is just unbearable, there is always the doctor.

Take care. Good luck.

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