Ask the Coach: Battling Plantar Fasciitis
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Coach Matt Hart offers several strategies for dealing with plantar fasciitis
Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli // Creative Commons 2.0
I started running approximately two years ago with minimalist shoes. After a year, I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I have been taping and switching between minimalist to more structured shoes with little improvement. I have tried rest and exercises recommended by a physical therapist, which were no help. What else should I try?
—David Decker, Robinson, IL
For those who’ve never experienced it, plantar fasciitis (PF) is an inflammatory condition of the connective tissue that runs on the bottom of your foot, causing arch and/or heel pain with each footfall.
If you catch it early, PF can be thwarted. Simply stop doing whatever it is that flares it up. If that five-mile tempo run leaves you limping out of bed the next morning—stop doing that workout. Take some time off and strengthen the musculature in the foot. The condition can also be caused or exacerbated by weak muscular foundation, foot mechanics, knee mechanics or gait. It is worth having your stride analyzed by a professional.
Also consider ditching the minimalism in favor of a shoe with motion control, recommends physical therapist and renowned trail runner Nikki Kimball. She feels your condition may be the result of increasing run volume when the musculature of your feet wasn’t prepared. An arch-supporting insole also helps mitigate the strain on your arches.
So, change shoes and lower your run volume if it’s directly correlated to an increase in your PF pain. Use a golf ball, lacrosse ball or foam roller to massage the muscles of your lower leg and foot. Strengthen the muscles of your foot with exercises like the marble pickup and the towel scrunch. Other options are soft-tissue massage, a brace and corticosteroid injections.
This article originally appeared in our June 2014 issue.
Have a question for the coach? Email your questions to Matt Hart at email@example.com.