Fitness Sports

A Simple Guide to Treating and Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

A Simple Guide to Treating and Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

For runners all over, plantar fasciitis can be a nagging issue that seemingly never disappears. But, that’s not how it has to be forever. 

We’re going to provide some steps to take, and things to be aware of in order to get yourself back in gear and build up those miles (this time, on happy feet!)

First, we’ll discuss why plantar fasciitis is common in runners. We’ll also help you identify whether or not you have it, and take steps to treat or even prevent it from affecting you in the first place.

Why Is Plantar Fasciitis Common in Runners?

Plantar fasciitis, or “runner’s heel”, is commonly experienced by runners everywhere due to the nature of the activity – repetitive amounts of light trauma to the tissue that supports the arch in your foot. Plantar fasciitis has different degrees of severity, and can be especially nagging to those who don’t take proper steps to treat or prevent the condition.

Many runners experience pain that comes and goes, so for some of us, it doesn’t have a significant impact on our running routines. But, we shouldn’t ignore the signs, as they can create more serious issues down the road.

Identifying Plantar Fasciitis

Runners might not be aware if they have plantar fasciitis, or if they’ve had it in the past. So, how do you know if you have plantar fasciitis?

Here are 3 of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis:

  1. Aching or sharp pain on the bottom of the foot (along the arch)
  2. Pain level varies throughout your routine
  3. Pain is worse after getting up in the morning

Chances are, if you’ve experienced pain and/or tightness along the bottom of your foot that comes and goes, it’s likely plantar fasciitis. The condition can affect people differently.

For example, some runners may experience symptoms that ease up after warming up, while others may experience more pain during or after the activity. It’s not a one-size fits all situation.

If you or your doctor/physician suspect the presence of plantar fasciitis, you’ll want to treat it as soon as possible.

How Runners Can Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to treat plantar fasciitis effectively. Hopefully, this results in pain that disappears down the road. The main focus when treating this condition is to reduce or eliminate swelling.

Here are 5 of the best ways runners can treat plantar fasciitis:

1. Tissue massage

Massage therapy is one of the most effective ways to manage the pain runners can experience from plantar fasciitis. Loosening up tissue relieves tension which can result in less inflammation and irritation.

Massage shouldn’t only be limited to the bottom of the foot. It’s important to incorporate massage of connected muscles and tissue as well, such as the sides of your foot and even your calves.

Best options for plantar fasciitis massage:

  • R3 Recovery Roller – white or black ($34.99)
  • Mobipoint Massage Ball ($11.99)
  • Massage foot with your thumbs (moving from heel to toe)
  • Roll a golf ball or tennis ball under your foot (heel to toe, then side to side)
  • Roll a frozen water bottle under your foot for a few minutes

2. Icing (cold therapy)

Ideally, runners with regular plantar fasciitis issues should ice twice a day. Icing is effective as it draws blood to the affected area of the foot to help heal the tiny tears that are present in your ligaments.

Don’t over-ice. 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient. You don’t want to cause any additional tissue damage from the cold temperature. Try not to apply the ice directly to your skin – keep an additional layer between the ice and your foot using a thin towel or cloth.

3. Routine stretching

Stretching results in ligaments that are more elasticized. When there’s less tension from your heel to your toes, your feet will thank you and you’ll be able to run even more. Since the affected tissue can have a tendency to tighten up, it’s important to stretch regularly and keep it in a loose state.

Best stretches for plantar fasciitis:

  • While seated, use a towel or band to pull on foot with your leg extended – hold for a minute
  • Any variation of a calf stretch 

4. Rest

When we perform any type of exercise, there is minor “damage” that needs to be repaired by our bodies. Those repairs happen naturally when we take breaks. Rest is important for all aspects of life, not just running.

But, rest is especially necessary when trying to reverse plantar fasciitis symptoms. Over use of this tissue can be more damaging than to other tissues because there is almost no blood flow that naturally flows through the plantar fascia.

Be sure that you are resting your feet, and not over-using them. Listen to your body – if the pain is telling you to stop, you should stop what you’re doing and rest!

5. Wear more supportive shoes

Having proper arch support is an important aspect of plantar fasciitis treatment. Since everyone’s feet are different, there is no shoe that will be comfortable for everyone.

You should try on different pairs to be sure the shoes you’re wearing are comfortable and provide enough support for the bottom of your feet. Oftentimes, people need more cushioning in order to take pressure off of their plantar fascia.

If you’ve exhausted all the above options for treating your plantar fasciitis, and nothing is working, we highly recommend seeing a trusted doctor and/or physical therapist. A professional can help determine whether or not you are actually suffering from plantar fasciitis, and can also recommend a more dedicated and detailed recovery plan.

Will plantar fasciitis go away on its own?

Plantar fasciitis rarely goes away on its own if runners leave it untreated and continue to ignore the symptoms. This is why all the above treatment tips are vital.

How Runners Can Prevent Plantar Fasciitis

If you are a runner and have never experienced plantar fasciitis, you’re not immune to it. It’s important to take the steps necessary to try and prevent it from starting in the first place. That way, you can keep running as much as you want!

Many of the same activities used to treat existing plantar fasciitis can also be used to prevent it, even if you’ve never had it before.

Here are some of the best ways to prevent plantar fasciitis:

  • Wear comfortable shoes that fit correctly
  • Start a stretching routine (this includes your feet, ankles and calves)
  • Warm up before every run
  • Do not run through pain
  • Occasionally find soft surfaces to run on
  • Run on flat surfaces
  • Replace shoes after 4 to 8 months depending on how much you run
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Now, you should be equipped with some helpful information to guide you through your plantar fasciitis challenges. Happy running!