If you are an avid runner, chances are you have come across Plantar Fasciitis. The last thing you want to do is give up your long runs. Yet, can you actually run with Plantar Fasciitis?
The question is more along the lines of should you actually run? There are a few things to know about Plantar Fasciitis before you decide whether or not you should run with the condition.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is basically inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is located on the bottom of your foot. This band of tissues can develop micro tears when the plantar fascia is overworked and overstretched.
The smallest point the plantar fascia attaches is at the heel, which is why most people experience pain here. From the heel, the plantar fascia extends to the balls of your feet. The purpose of this tissue is to keep the arch from completely flattening, and also to absorb shock as you run, walk, stand, or do any type of activity.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Any movement that puts too much strain on the plantar tendon may cause Plantar Fasciitis. Some of these activities include running, walking, going upstairs, and going down hills. Wearing heels on a regular basis can also cause Plantar Fasciitis because it overextends the tendons. In addition, pointing your toes up while your heel comes down during your stride, also called dorsiflexion, can cause Plantar Fasciitis.
Heel striking can also make your Plantar Fasciitis flare up. Heel striking is when you reach forward with your legs during your stride. This puts a lot of pressure on your heels, which put a strain on the plantar fascia. The strain on this area can turn into micro-tears that cause extreme pain every time you walk or move throughout the day.
If your calf and Achilles tendon is tight, this will put a strain on your plantar tendon, which can cause Plantar Fasciitis. The tight Achilles tendon will pull on the plantar tendon, which weakens the area where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel.
You are more likely to experience pain in your heel because of this. To keep your feet, ankles, and calves loose, stretch before doing any activities.
High arches and flat feet can also cause Plantar Fasciitis because the arch does not absorb as much shock as it should. If you have either of these conditions, you are more likely to develop this condition. To prevent this from happening, wear the right type of shoes for your foot type.
Why Does it Affect Runners?
Running on a regular basis can put strain on your plantar fascia, especially if you over or underpronate. Running longer distances and suddenly increasing the amount you run can also amplify your risk for Plantar Fasciitis. About 10 percent of all running injuries come from Plantar Fasciitis. In fact, over two million runners experience this condition each year.
What Makes Plantar Fasciitis Worse?
Poor running form can make your Plantar Fasciitis worse. If you tense up your lower body, especially lower legs, you may notice your plantar fascia becoming tighter. When this happens, the plantar fascia is less likely to move with your feet, which makes them prone to micro-tears.
While running, the way your foot strikes impact your plantar fascia. If you hit your heel first, it can cause problems with your feet and lower legs. Try to have your feet hit midfoot in your strike because your plantar fascia will be more relaxed, which puts less strain on your heel.
Leading with your legs while running can make your Plantar Fasciitis worse. To fix this, let your upper body lead and let your legs naturally follow. In addition, keep your strike short and try to keep your feet under the center of your mass when you land.
Running with the wrong pair of shoes can wreak havoc on your feet. Look for shoes that support your foot type. If you overpronate, find shoes to correct this so you can reduce the chances of developing Plantar Fasciitis. Shoes are also made for underpronators and those with neutral feet.
Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis so You Can Run
One of the best ways to keep your plantar fascia loose, so you can still be active, is to stretch on a regular basis. It is especially important to stretch before you do any activity, especially running.
One way to stretch your plantar fascia is to stand near a wall, stair, or curb and put your foot on top of the curb. The other foot should stay on the ground and the heel of the foot on the curb should extend over the pavement.
Lower your heel towards the ground until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your legs. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, but not longer than is comfortable. Do this three times on each leg.
Another stretch you can do at home is to stand arm’s length away from a wall. Put your hands on the wall and slowly lower yourself towards the wall. Keep both feet firmly on the ground. You should feel a stretch in your legs. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it three times.
If your feet are sore after your run, use a frozen water bottle to stretch your plantar fascia. Put the water bottle under your feet and roll it back and forth. This can do for two to five minutes. If the frozen water bottle is too cold for your feet, try a tennis ball.
While sitting on a chair, cross your right leg over the other. Grab the toes of your right leg and pull them towards you. You should feel a stretch on the bottom of your foot that goes through the back of your ankle. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg. Do a total of three repetitions on each leg.
Another stretch you can do while sitting down is with a towel. Put your legs straight out in front of you and put the towel around the top of your feet. Gently pull the towel towards you until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your feet.
Should You Run with Plantar fasciitis?
When your Plantar Fasciitis flares up, you definitely should give your feet a break when you first feel the symptoms coming on. If you try to run with acute Plantar Fasciitis, you may aggravate the micro tears and it will take longer to heal. Ice your feet and give them a break before you start running again.
When you do decide to start running again, you will need to start with a modified routine. Start off on flat, soft surfaces that are shorter than your previous runs. This will reduce the stress on your plantar fascia, and allow your feet to get used to the strain of running again.
A good way to get back into running is to start on a gravel path for 15 minutes. Wait 24 hours after this run, and if you do not feel any pain, try running a little longer next time.
You can increase the time in five-minute increments as long as your pain does not increase or come back. Try to stay on softer surfaces until your Plantar Fasciitis heals so you do not increase your chance of micro-tears.
Running with Plantar Fasciitis can be tricky, especially if the symptoms are just coming on. If it is within the first few days of experiencing symptoms, it is best to give your feet a break to allow the inflammation to go down and any micro-tears to heal. Read more on plantar fasciitis treatment options.
When you do decide to run again, start slowly and on soft terrain. Be sure to stretch before any activity and rest your feet if they do start to hurt again.