Three weeks ago my foot started playing up, soar post run and even worse in the morning I put it down to bruising from my insoles and new shoes. As the days passed by and the pain remained I did some digging – called on the knowledge of a few friends – to find out I have Plantar Fasciitis. I asked a foot specialist, masseuse and professional coach how to treat Plantar Fasciitis, here is the advise from all three and which treatment worked for me.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis And What Causes It?
The Plantar Fascia is a flat band of tissue stretching along the bottom of your foot from the heel right through to your toe. Its job – supporting your foot – lends itself to irritation and straining. Many professionals describe Plantaar Fasciitis as a weak, swollen or inflamed ligament when strained.
I personally prefer the explanation of my masseuse, who used this phrase to explain my symptoms; Its basically a build up of crap and dead tissue, which needs to be broken down and moved into your blood stream to leave your body when urinating. Nice. This certainly helped me understand how to treat Plantar Fasciitis which we’ll get to soon.
My problems began with a poor choice of shoes and resistance to wasting money. I wear custom orthotics to prevent pronation which puts pressure on the arches of my feet. This has led to bruising in the past and on this occasion my incorrect self diagnosis. Persisting with the new hybrid shoes – assuming they needed wearing in – was a mistake as the pain got worse. I was foolish to prioritise bang for my buck over preventing injury.
I also suffered with tight calfs, running five days a week and a high arch. In review a number of issues could have caused my Plantar Fasciitis but in my case ill fitting shoes, persistent rolling and a tight calf were the main culprits.
Do I Have Plantar Fasciitis?
Lets not jump the gun and talk about how to treat Plantar Fasciitis before you have diagnosed it. I am not a fan of self diagnosis, after all look where I landed. Making poor assumptions, on a lack of knowledge leads to wrong treatments and prolonged injury. However, the bullet points below were all red lights for me.
- Aching, sourness which feels like a nagging pain, not an actual injury. The pain never escalated to stop me running but was always there.
- Very soar in the morning my foot seemed to ‘loosen’ up after a few hours, but got worse as the day went on.
- A soft massage seemed to offer slight relief and the effected area felt hard, almost like a knotted muscle.
Of all foot injuries this can be the worst to nail down due to presenting itself in numerous ways. My pain is present around the instep – that soft pad in the arch of my foot – many others get pain around the arch or heel. I urge you, see a physio or specialist who can confirm what the injury actually is before starting treatment.
How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis
Before reading on please note this treatment is specific to my symptoms and where the pain presents itself, in the inner arch. Remember Plantar Fasciitis is a persistent bugger, it can take weeks, months or even years to cure. However, the treatments below will speed up recovery and ease the pain while you heal. Skip one of the remedies or slack off on repetition and prolong your recovery. Just saying.
Start by icing the effected area at least three times a day, I generally apply for 10-15 minutes at a time. If you work in an office you could do this through the day or at night while watching TV. Note: this is phase one, you must follow up immediately with the golf ball treatment below.
Get It With A Golf Ball
Using a frozen golf ball – seriously leave one in the freezer – roll in a circular motion over the effected area. Rest your foot across your opposite thigh and applying pressure with your palm roll the golf ball in a circular motion. I can actually feel the hard, dead tissue breaking down like crust flaking away as I do this.
Please don’t use a spiky roller, you may damage the nerves in your foot. It can be easier to roll your foot over the golf ball on the floor. I found this to be less accurate, the image left shows exactly how I use the golf ball. As with icing this should be done three times a day for as long as you can. The treatment doesn’t hurt, but its also not the most comfortable hence the ice.
Special Orthotics (Insoles)
Not exactly how to treat Plantar Fasciitis but wearing insoles can help with the pain. It wasn’t until I wore insoles ALL day that the pain eased up. Picture the Plantar Fascia strung along your foot like a washing line. There is a tear or weakness in the middle of the line and you are pulling it tight, constantly. Sounds painful doesn’t it? That is exactly what you do by walking around without insoles. If you have a high arch you are stretching the fascia and irritating it.
You can buy specific insoles for about £20-30 tops and your arch will be supported. This will prevent the fascia from stretching and hand on heart, my pain subsided the day after I started wearing my running insoles throughout the day at work. Don’t be tight, you could have this injury for a while so help yourself and invest a little cash.
Lots Of Lotions
I use Forever products due to its natural Aloe Vera properties, their MSM gel soothes and eases pain. I tend to apply a healthy portion and massage well into the effected area after every run.
How To Avoid Plantar Fasciitis Altogether
Of course this will vary from case to case but the tips below are a great starting point. Plantar Fasciitis does not discriminate, it could effect any runner who fails to carry out the measures below.
- Apply heat to tight calfs and stretch often.
- Prepare for a run by warming up and cooling down.
- Have hot baths.
- Wear new shoes in slowly, alternating with an old pair.
- Be sure not to run old shoes into the ground.
- Do not increase your training too fast. The 10% a week rule is used by most.