1. Plantar Fasciitis
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.
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.