Having spent so much more time on social media over the past months, I’ve noticed how many posts come up about foot pain when running, in the various forums I am a part of.
So I asked Modestas (Sports Therapist & MSc Osteopathy Student) to share some insight with us, focusing on Plantar Fasciitis today which could be one of the causes of your foot pain when running.
Is Plantar Fasciitis Causing Your Foot Pain When Running?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that affects the fascia of the foot. Fascia is a type of connective tissue which surrounding muscles holding them together and giving them shape,. Fascia also separates muscle from other structures allowing smooth, frictionless movement of muscles over joints, bones and tendons.
Plantar fascia has distinct properties though. It is much thicker than other fascia in the body and depending on the literature you read, it is referred to as plantar ligament.
The plantar fascia is located at the base of your foot and extends from the base of your heel to the toes. The main function of plantar fascia is to provide support and tension through the arch of the foot.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The specific cause of plantar fasciitis is debatable, however, there are several aspects which are most common causes of the plantar fasciitis. These are the biomechanics of the foot.
For example having a fallen arch known as pes planus or arch which is too high, known as pes cavus. However, plantar fasciitis can also be developed with underlying arthritic conditions, neuropathies (nerve related disorders) and repetitive strain to the area.
You may predispose yourself to plantar fasciitis if you are a keen runner or cyclist and decided to increase your training load significantly within a short period of time.
This will place excessive amount of forces through the plantar fascia causing repetitive micro-trauma to the collagen, which is the main building block for the tissue. This means the area is unable to adjust to the new training routine and recover sufficiently.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain in the heel, usually at the bottom of the heel, present after inactivity. For example, your first steps after having sat down for a while. It can also cause pain anywhere from the balls of your feet to the heel. So arch of foot pain when running could be symptom.
Pain usually may feel very sharp and you might struggle to take several steps until it eases. If the condition is more advanced, you may feel discomfort and/or pain throughout the day and while running.
The area might feel tender and warmer than other parts of the foot due to inflammation.
However, it should be noted that these symptoms are not set in stone.
If you experience any of the symptoms above, you should aim to have it investigated asap. Plantar fasciitis is a very tricky condition to manage and the longer you suffer, the longer it might take to recover.
Depending on the severity of your plantar fasciitis, general guidelines suggest that it may take from a few weeks up to 12 months and in rare cases even longer to treat the condition.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
There are a number of conservative approaches that can be employed when trying to treat plantar fasciitis.
Firstly, if you have increased your training significantly within a short period of time, you should reduce the training to at least the amount you were doing before or to a load which does not irritate the area. This will vary from person to person.
If you have seen a healthcare professional previously and were informed you have pes planus or pes cavus, you may opt to have personalised insoles.
How To Stop Your Foot Pain At Home
When it comes to self-management at home you can utilise a foam roller, massage ball or any hard ball to roll your foot on. Bear in mind that it will be very uncomfortable, so do not push through agony and roll within your pain tolerance.
Try icing the area after physical activity for a 2-4 hours. Placing the ice on the area for 20 minutes of each hour.
Stretch your calf muscles and your plantar fascia. When you stretch, hold it for a minimum of 30 seconds. Check out this Post Run Stretch & Recovery Guide to ensure you reduce your risk of injury as a runner.
Work on strengthening the muscles around the foot and ankle as well as the main muscles involved in your activity.
Alternatively, sports massage, joint manipulations and articulations or acupuncture may also be considered. Research suggests that these modalities are also effective in treating plantar fasciitis.*
*If after trying the suggestions above symptoms do not ease or worsen we encourage you to seek professional help.