Runners and Heel Pain

Running pain, also known in the medical field as plantar fasciitis is may occur as a result of increased distance during your workout route, a lapse in the structure of your foot or wearing running shoes with insufficient support, damaging your plantar fascia – the tissue that connects your heel to the base of your toes. This tissue is made of collagen and is unyielding, resulting in painful tears or inflammation when stretched beyond its natural limit.

It is commonly caused by runners who over train, don’t partake in sufficient stretching before their workout, regularly climb hills that are too steep or run too fast for prolonged periods.
It is also possible to develop the painful condition through biomechanical flaws, such as flat feet, high arches, and tight Achilles tendons. Further causes may include sudden changes to your regular workout plan, or running on excessively hard surfaces, for example concrete or asphalt.

Sufferers will begin to feel a sharp stabbing or shooting pain or a deep aching sensation in the middle of their heel or throughout the arch of the foot. A visible limp may also be noticeable as your foot contracts into a healing position in an attempt to recover, causing a further strain on the foot and affecting your foot’s placement and balance. Once warmed up, the pain may begin to fade, however it is likely to return after long periods of inactivity. The condition can worsen over time so it’s important to keep it at bay to begin with.

Plantar fasciitis can be prevented by purchasing high quality running shoes suited to your foot’s shape, running on relatively soft surfaces and taking any changes in your routine slowly, rather than making a sudden alteration.

Upon noticing the condition you may wish to massage the foot and apply an ice pack. Although the pain may only present itself in one foot, it is important to massage both to ensure they are both strong and well maintained to prevent the condition from occurring. Massages should be done first thing in the morning and repeated three times throughout the day.

Wearing comfortable shoes when not running can also prove beneficial as arch support is important for recovery. Shoes will little support, high heels or going barefoot can slow down the process and cause you more discomfort.

If the condition cannot be relieved and causes issues for a prolonged period of time, it is recommended you visit a sports podiatrist. Common treatments for the condition include physical therapy, orthotics, foot taping, night splints and cortisone injections. In severe cases, in which the pain has remained chronic for a six month period or more, you may be referred for shock wave therapy which is an FDA-approved method of treating plantar fasciitis.

By taking the right precautions against running pain and wearing the correct training footwear during your workout, you can help to ensure that your healthy habit of running doesn’t cause you damage or injury in the long term.