I’ve played sports almost my entire life. Growing up I alternated between baseball in the summer and ice hockey in the winter. When I got into high school I fell in love with distance running. And I was actually pretty good at it. I was good enough to eventually run cross country and long distance track at a Division 1 college. But one thing about playing so many sports is that you’re going to get injured. And you’re definitely going to get injured if you play competitively. This is especially true if you play sports that require a lot of repetitive motion, as in distance running.
The injuries suffered when running are from over use. It’s not likely that you’ll fall, trip, or slip. Nope, you’re going to get injured from just running.
My friends used to ask me, Josh, how can I get good at running? And I used to tell them, run for 10 years. It’s kind of a short answer, but it’s true. You get good at running by making your legs strong. So strong that you won’t get shin splints, stress fractures or the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
Middle of Foot Pain? It’s Probably Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is in my opinion one of the most irritating running injuries you can develop. It just doesn’t want to heal.You get a stress fracture (which I’ve had) and you’ll get better with rest. The time table is set. You get a torn muscle, you know you’ll be back up and running in a few weeks. But get plantar fasciitis? You’ve got a problem.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Let me tell you my story.
I got plantar fasciitis when I was a junior in college. At the time, I was running around 80-90 miles a week and was just preparing for outdoor track season. For weeks our track team and I had been doing a lot of workouts on an indoor track.
If you aren’t familiar, an indoor track is half as big as an outdoor track, so for the same distance run, you’re doing twice as many curves. The curves are a lot sharper as well.
Running at high speed around these sharp curves really puts a ton of stress on the bottom of the foot. This stress over time tears the fascia on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is just a fancy medical name for a type of connect tissue that supports the arch of the foot.
This fascia connects the heel to the toes. The problem with injuring this tissue is that it doesn’t get much blood supply. Because it doesn’t get much blood, it heals very slowly. The blood provides nutrients and clears waste, ultimately helping to heal the damaged tissue.
Plantar Fasciitis Recovery Tips
The most important thing you can do to help speed up your recovery from plantar fasciitis is to stretch. But you can’t just stretch any old way. You need to perform specific stretches that will maximize the time you spend stretching and actively help heal your foot.
Use a Roller
To do this, you need to get a roller like the Thera-Band foot roller. I’ve used a tennis ball as well, but it doesn’t do as good of a job because it’s too small of an object. It’s also difficult to keep the tennis ball aligned under the foot which makes for a frustrating experience.
Use your roller throughout the day – and often. Like every 30 minutes often. The worst thing you can do is let the plantar fascia tighten up. If it tightens up, you just set back your recovery timetable because the tight tissue won’t allow the blood supply from continuing the healing process.
Wrap and Support Your Arch
It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to be off your feet for months. You need to take some of the stress off the plantar fascia while you give it time to heal. When I was running, I had the trainer wrap my foot before training sessions. Yes, I did continue training through this awful injury, but I don’t recommend you do the same.
The wrapping helped a lot, and it’s probably the reason I didn’t injure my foot even more. You can wrap your foot yourself by taking a medical bandage and wrapping around the arch, over the heel, and back again. Or you could just buy a sleeve that fits much like a sock.
Wear a Brace for Plantar Fasciitis at Night
Like I said before if you’re not stretching your plantar fascia will seize up in a matter of hours. This becomes a big problem at night.
If you’ve had plantar fasciitis before, you know that it’s the worst right after you get up. That’s because when we sleep, our toes are pointed most of the time. This allows the plantar fascia to tighten up, exactly the OPPOSITE of what we want it to do. Do yourself a favor and get this sock. Don’t be like me and waste valuable recovery time while people who use this get better so much more quickly.
To keep your plantar fascia stretched while you sleep, you should use a boot or a special sock.
This boot will help heal your plantar fasciitis because it will do the stretching for you while you rest. If there’s one thing that I wished I used sooner, it’s this type of boot.
When I was in college I had very little money. I stretching the bottom of foot a lot and used a roller, but I didn’t get a boot for the first month and a half. After I started wearing it, my improvement was dramatic.
Zinc is especially helpful in reducing inflammation in the body. It’s recommended to take 15-30 mg of zinc per day to get the most anti-inflammatory response from it.
You might also consider taking fish oil, as the fatty acids have been shown to reduce pain from suffers of rheumatoid arthritis.
But even with these supplements, your best bet is to stay on a routine stretching regimen, wear some sort of brace throughout the day, and continue passive stretching during period of rest with a boot specifically designed for plantar fasciitis.
What do You Think?
Have you suffered from plantar fasciitis like I did? What worked best for you? Let me know in the comments.