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GUIDE TO COMMON RUNNING INJURIES PART 2: Plantar Fasciitis


The plantar fascia is a band of tissues that runs from the heel to the forefoot at the bottom of your foot. This tendon maintains the arch during each stride and absorbs the shock. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs as a consequence of tearing and scarring of
the plantar fascia which can occur for a variety of reasons associated with running.

Early symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain in the heel when rolling out of bed for those early runs and taking the first couple of steps and also while starting to run. As the condition develops, the pain lasts longer in the morning and while running. Acute plantar
fasciitis can be so painful that it makes running impossible, every runners worst nightmare.

SYMPTOMS
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is sharp or knifelike heel pain that usually occurs when a person gets up in the morning and takes the first few steps. The pain also may occur when the person stands up after sitting for a period of time.

PREVENTION
Take care of your feet. Wear shoes with good arch support and heel cushioning. Do exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon at the back of the heel. This is especially important before sport. Increase your exercise levels gradually, and always wear the correct shoes for the sport that you are doing. Alternate running with other sports that will not cause heel pain.

Put on supportive shoes as soon as you get out of bed. Going barefoot or wearing slippers puts stress on your feet.

TREATEMENT
No single treatment works best for everyone and it is very important to give the plantar fascia a rest when the symptoms occur.

Rest Cut back on activities that make your foot hurt. Try not to walk or run on hard surfaces. To reduce pain and swelling, apply ice to the plantar fascia. An effective way of icing is to fill a plastic 500 ml bottle with water, and to freeze it. Apply the ice
by rolling the bottle under the foot. Icing and stretching in one easy step.

Stretch Do toe stretches, calf stretches and towel stretches several times a day, especially when you first get up in the morning. Before you get out of bed, grab your toes and ball of your foot and gently pull them towards your shin, hold for 30 -60 seconds, release and repeat 5 times.

Get a new pair of shoes Pick shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole. Or try heel cups or shoe inserts (orthotics). Use them in both shoes, even if only one foot hurts.

If these treatments do not help, try a night splint (R485). A splint stretches the calf and plantar fascia while you sleep, minimising stress on the inflamed area on the foot.