How to Overcome Plantar Fasciitis
Tis the season for injuries, or so it feels.
I give incredible props to all the athletes out there who have come through an entire season of racing and training completely unscathed, in fact, that is the main goal on my list for 2015.
Although I have never suffered from it myself, I have had a few friends battling a nasty case of plantar fasciitis and wanted to take a look at what it is and how to treat it.
What is it?
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament leading to pain, swelling and time off running.
How to tell if you have Plantar Fasciitis
Most people with plantar fasciitis have pain when they take their first steps after they get out of bed or sit for a long time. You may have less stiffness and pain after you take a few steps with your foot may hurting more as the day progresses. It may hurt the most when you climb stairs or after you stand for a long time.
The first thing you need to do is find out what is causing your plantar fasciitis. Head to your physiotherapist or sports doctor for an appointment. A common cause of planter fasciitis is tight calf muscles and using a tool like The Stick can help loosen them. Massage your calf two to three times a day with a gentle flushing massage and you are likely to release the tight area.
Another key component of healing is diet. Ligaments are made of something called collagen so it is important to ensure that you have healthy collagen (not to mention, it helps you look younger!!) Eating dark leafy vegetables, beans, red fruits and vegetables, vitamin C, flaxseed and omega 3 will help to keep your collagen levels healthy.
Increasing arch support is another option. I have custom orthotics for marathoners that I will wear if I feel a foot injury coming on.
Perhaps the biggest thing of all is to take a look at the shoes that you are wearing every day. It is easy to hone in on the training shoes you use and forget the other 22 hours of the day when you are not working out. For those of us in an office job, spending all day in heels or uncomfortable dress shoes is doing nothing to help us stay injury-free.
I have spoken about them before, but I use a company called Vionic for my dress shoes. I have a job that requires me to dress up, as well as a stand up desk so I need my shoes to feel like running shoes while looking like dress shoes.
Designed by podiatrist Philip Vasyli, who specializes in biomechanics, created a technology in his shoes that prevents over pronation. Over pronation causes the misalignment of your feet and knees, resulting in injury and collapsed arches. The shoes have orthoheel technology which lift the arch and helps support and realign the feet. I literally have all of my footwear outside of running shoes come from Vionic, from my dress shoes to my flip flops.
My latest pair for fall is the lovely Sydney Driver.
I have not found a better dress shoe for athletes to wear outside of training anywhere. This shoe retails for $155.00.
Training with Plantar Fasciitis
It can be hard to maintain running fitness while out with an injury but I always go back to the pool as a no impact form of training.
Pool running has it’s place, but I find it difficult to get my heart rate high enough. I incorporate vertical kicking with my hands above my head and working to exhaustion. For the days I am not pool running, I will do freestyle drills.
The bike is a great way to keep running fitness form. I use heart rate training in my workouts and use my Polar watch to keep my heart rate in the same range on the bike that I do while running.
A few notes for the bike: Don’t drop your heel too much to keep your plantar fasciitis in check. Put the bike in a light gear and keep the same cadence as you do while running.
When you are returning to running, do a bike warmup before pounding the pavement.
What shoes do you wear when you are not running?