Most Runners know someone who has suffered from the dreaded morning shock of Plantar Fasciitis. As if mornings aren’t rough enough, now you have to suffer stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot when you step down from your evening slumber.
Plantar Fasciitis is described as sharp pain on the bottom of the foot. Pain is worse first thing in the morning when you step out of bed, with toe-off, or with walking or running, and sometimes improves throughout the day.
Pain is most often caused by running too far too soon before the tissue has adapted, causing inflammation and degeneration of the fascia (connective tissue) on the bottom of the foot. Pain is often felt at the heel, where the fascia originates. Sudden changes in footwear or training surface may also be a cause.
Because plantar fasciitis is worse in the mornings, most runners suffer through the pain to get in their daily mileage. You can run through it but pain typically gets worse and starts to limit the distance you are able to run pain free. If the condition becomes quite severe, heel pain can plague even your daily walking! I find it hard to understand why anyone would want to suffer the pain of plantar fasciitis when early treatment can be so effective.
To beat the morning bummer try these treatment techniques:
For pain and inflammation: try to unload the fascia with techniques such as taping or orthotics. These should be used short term only. Ultrasound, and acupuncture are other treatments performed by health care professionals such as a physiotherapist, chiropractic, or massage therapist. Soft tissue massage helps to decrease sensitivity of the tissue and flush out by-products of your body’s natural healing process that often pool in the foot in the a.m causing the sharp increase in pain when your foot is placed on the ground.
To increase range of movement and tissue length: try stretching out the calf and hamstring muscles. Eccentric calf raises also help to create changes in the tissues that speed healing. Use of a frozen water bottle or golf ball under the foot also helps to loosen the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot.
To correct biomechanical flaws and strengthen the pelvis and lower limb: try one- legged squats over a small step ensuring that the knee stays in alignment with the second toe.
Most importantly remember that Plantar Fasciitis is primarily caused by over training. Be sure to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% in distance and 3% in intensity!
About the Author: Karen Gilbert is a physiotherapist at CBI Health Group in London, Ontario and a competitive distance runner. Karen enjoys bringing together her love of running with her love of treating patients.