Addressing Plantar Fasciitis in Runners

Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition among runners and other athletes.  The condition is marked by pain in the heel which is usually worse in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time.  The sharp pain is a symptom thought to be caused by degeneration of the collagen fibers of the plantar fascia. 

Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available for plantar fasciitis pain including orthotics, exercise, taping, splints, injections, and surgery.  Many of these options can help to relieve the pain associated with this condition however, some of them are associated with risks and many of them do not address the underlying cause of the condition. 

Causes

Unfortunately, the root causes of plantar fasciitis are not entirely understood.  There is a myriad of issues that likely contribute to the progression of the degeneration of the plantar fascia.  Obesity, time spent standing, and increased forces throughout the heel are contributing factors.  Runners suffering from acute plantar fasciitis may benefit from improving cushioning and arch support to reduce the forces throughout the fascia.  Studies have found a link between poor ankle range of motion, especially in dorsiflexion, which implies that calf tightness plays a role in the development of plantar fasciitis. Other studies have demonstrated a link between weakness of the hip and core postural muscles causing poor biomechanics during running/walking which may lead to increased forces throughout the plantar fascia. 

Best Treatment

It is always best to begin with conservative treatment that has little to no side effects.  This can include a change in footwear, orthotics, exercise, taping or splinting.  Typically, it is recommended to avoid invasive procedures unless all conservative options have been exhausted.  With so many potential causes to your pain it can be very difficult to determine the best treatment option for your plantar fasciitis.  The quickest and cheapest way to address your heel pain and get back to running is to make an appointment with your physical therapist.  The best news yet, you DO NOT need a prescription from your doctor to see a physical therapist.

When Should I Return to Running?

This depends on the severity of your injury and the amount of time you have had the issue.  Chronic plantar fasciitis can be very difficult to treat so it is imperative to address the issue right away.  In the acute stage, we will typically recommend avoiding high impact activity for 2 weeks or until the symptoms decrease in severity.  As you return to running, it is important to decrease the impact on the heel.  This can be accomplished with a change in footwear, orthotics, or shortening your stride length.  If you are still having heel pain consult Transform Rehabilitation for a physical therapy evaluation to get back to running in no time.  In the meantime, check out our social medial pages to see some of the best exercises to prevent plantar fasciitis.  Follow us and share with a friend to stay on top of everything Transform Rehabilitation. 

-Kyle Lance, PT, DPT

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