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The Five Most Troublesome Running Injuries

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published May. 10, 2012
  • Updated Feb. 1, 2013 at 9:03 AM UTC
Sharp pain at the base of the heel is a common characteristic of plantar fasciitis. Photo: northcoastfootcareblog.com

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Sharp pain at the base of the heel is a common characteristic of plantar fasciitis. Photo: northcoastfootcareblog.com

In my experience, plantar fasciitis is the peskiest problem that plagues the running wounded. During my almost four-year stint working as the manager of a specialty running store, complaints of persistent heel pain were heard more often than any other injury or ailment. Most times, the culprit could be pegged as plantar fasciitis – a sharp, tight and painful sensation at the base of the heel that was annoying to some and excruciating for others.

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Many a customer would describe the first steps out of bed in the morning, or first few strides of a run, as comparable to stepping heel first onto a nail. Eventually, the pain might go away as the day or run carried out, only to return afterward or again the next day. It’s a vicious cycle for sure.

What causes plantar fasciitis? Overtraining, overuse and improper or worn-out footwear, yes, but the real root of the problem lies in tight and weakened muscles that aren’t able to handle the training you are trying to do.

The fix: Orthotics and high stability shoes oftentimes serve as effective bandaids and can help eliminate a lot of people’s symptoms in a short period of time. And while I’m not absolutely against these quick fixes, by no means are they the only – or the best – way to make the pain in your heel go away. In the short term, avoiding bare feet, stretching the calves, rolling your feet around on a golf ball and icing the affected area will provide some much-need relief relatively quickly. Long term, however, diligent stretching, combined with strengthening the muscles in and around the feet will address the root of the problem and help offset a reoccurrence of this awful injury.

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FILED UNDER: Injury Prevention / Running Injuries TAGS: / / / /

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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