Plantar Fasciitis, by Kevin Jermyn and Chris Graff of TrackCoach.com¹

Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-tar fashee-EYE-tiss) is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is tissue that lies between the muscles in the mid-foot and the skin on the bottom of the foot. The function of the plantar fascia is to maintain the arch of the foot by attaching the ball of the foot to the heel and creating a bow like shape. During each step of running, the plantar endures stresses three times the individualís body weight when the heel is first raised off the ground in the forward motion, making it obvious why many runners incur this common problem.

A sign of plantar fasciitis is pain in the middle to front region of the heel, especially in the first few steps of running or walking when you have been inactive for a long period of time. The pain can also commonly be found directly in the arch of the foot, where the tissue is located. At times a small ridge can be seen connecting the heel to the ball of the foot: this is an extremely inflamed plantar. The pain (which is caused by the enlarged plantar trapping or irritating nerves in the foot) can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the severity of the case and the steps taken to cure it.

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are a lack of arch support in the shoes, increase in activity, lack of flexibility in the calf muscles, being overweight, using unstable shoes on hard ground, or spending too much time on your feet. There are several cures to the problem although no one is guaranteed to be the absolute solution. The treatments are:

  • Applying ice to the arch of the foot after all activities (freezing water in a Dixie cup, rubbing the inflamed area, and peeling the cup away as the ice melts, works well)
  • Rolling your foot gently on a rubber ball or tennis ball so that you massage the plantar and loosen it up (a good activity while you are sitting at your desk)
  • Stretching the calf muscles gently after periods of inactivity (when you wake up in the morning, after sitting for a long time, etc.)
  • Arch support, especially if you have flat feet or high arches
  • Losing weight
  • Anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, Alieve, or ibuprofen.
  • Better shoes and/or running on grass or trails instead of sidewalks or roads.
  • Decreasing athletic activity or time spent on your feet

Trying to simply run through the pain can cause a mild case to become worse, and possibly lead to a heel spur. Large increases in activity can cause a "cured" case to reoccur. Trying to warm your foot up in the morning when you wake is important to make sure you arenít re-injuring your plantar every morning, but with the right warm up, stretching, icing and massaging with a ball, you should be able to run pain free.

Kevin Jermyn and Chris Graff
TrackCoach.com

¹ TrackCoach.com provides several levels of personal coaching for anyone ranging from beginner to elite.