Doctors diagnose millions of new cases of plantar fasciitis each year. The condition commonly beleaguers runners who increase their mileage dramatically, have feet with poor structure or wear improper shoes.
Plantar fasciitis refers to stress placed on the plantar fascia, which is a connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the base of the heel to the toe. The condition can make it painful to walk. It can also interrupt training for dedicated athletes, as well as casual runners.
Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms
You may suspect plantar fasciitis if you suffer from heel pain along the bottom of the foot or experience an increase in foot pain after a run or similar type of exertion. You may also feel pain when you wake up in the morning and take a few steps, but the pain will usually subside after walking for a few minutes.
Many people with plantar fasciitis also suffer from heel spurs, but that condition is rarely the cause of plantar fasciitis. When a doctor examines you, he or she will check for a few risk factors, as well as inspect the area around the foot and ankle. If the doctor is unable to make a diagnosis, he or she may recommend an MRI or X-ray.
Limited range of motion in the ankle, tenderness on the bottom of the foot, and pain that occurs when the doctor pushes on the bottom of the foot may indicate plantar fasciitis. During an examination, the doctor may check for high arches, as well as discuss recent footwear choice and exercise regimens.
Preventing Plantar Fasciitis After a Run
There is no absolute way to prevent plantar fasciitis, but health professionals have identified practices that can reduce your chance of developing the condition. One option is to avoid increasing mileage run by more than 10 percent each week, as well as to wear shoes that give proper support for your natural gait.
A specialty running store will usually have employees on staff who can examine your style of running or walking and who can recommend a specific shoe to match your biomechanics. Avoiding worn-out shoes can also reduce the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis. Maintaining a regular schedule of stretching can further reduce the chance of experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Treatment Options for Plantar Fasciitis
Fortunately, plantar fasciitis is treatable. Most sufferers overcome the condition with a combination of rest, cryotherapy and stretching for several months. Employing specialized devices while engaging in a regimen of stretching and strengthening exercises can help relieve symptoms.
A doctor may recommend that a sufferer of plantar fasciitis place his or her feet in a bucket of ice for relief. Another option is to massage the foot with a device such as the Spara Podiatry Massage Tool, which will apply a deep tissue massage to the foot for simultaneous icing and massage via a marble ball. Additional therapies include custom-fitted arch supports or splints worn at night to aid in recovery.
Individuals who do not find relief from these options may need to consider more invasive options that include surgery, shock wave therapy or steroid injections. Most people who are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis do not reach the point where these procedures are necessary, but it remains vital to adhere to the therapy schedule recommended by a doctor.
Train Smart and Maintain Foot Health
Runners of all stripes must adhere to a smart training schedule — whether they're a candidate for the Boston Marathon or are increasing their mileage to run their first local race. Avoid becoming one of the millions of people to suffer each year from plantar fasciitis by wearing proper shoes, avoiding dramatic increases in mileage, and adhering to a regular schedule of foot massage and stretching.