Walking boots/casts are one of the most unfortunate things that can be clamped onto an endurance athlete’s leg. I spent the last six weeks rocking one on my left foot. (The previous owner? Michael Cuddyer of the Minnesota Twins!) Since last summer I started experience pain in my heel, and it persisted and never got better. Being the obsessive student I am, I developed a differential diagnosis to see what could possibly be wrong with me. My diagnosis was confirmed, and I have plantar fasciitis! What is plantar fasciitis? Well the plantar fascia is connective tissue going from your heel to each toe, and it acts almost as a web holding in the muscles of your foot and helps support your arch. Plantar fasciitis is the irritation of the fascia, caused by repetitive overstretching. My own personal injury is the inspiration for this post. Below I will describe the mechanisms of the injury, warning signs, and how you can try to fix it!
Causes: Multiple things can cause plantar fasciitis, and usually it is a combination of more than one thing. The biggest reason is amping up your training, especially running, at a fast pace.
Symptoms: The biggest indication of plantar fasciitis is heel pain, feeling that your arch is tight, pain with the first few steps getting out of bed, and pain with dorsiflexion (trying to point your toes to the ceiling).
How do I fix it?: The problem with plantar fasciitis is that it is an overuse injury, so don’t expect it to go away in a week. It can last up to 3 months, or in my case about 9 months and counting. Here are some tips to alleviate the pain and help out!
-Wearing a night splint (bought at running stores, or make your own with a compression sock like me!)
-Kinesio tape (really cool stuff, check out their website… http://www.kinesiotaping.com/kinesio/method.html )
-Plantar Fascae Strip, tape job
-Ice massage the bottoms of your feet after activity (freezing a water bottle and rolling it under your feet helps)
-Thorough calf and plantar fascia stretching before and after activity (The plantar fascia is part of a kinetic chain with your Achilles and calf, stretching them all is beneficial)
-Graston, or other forms of massage to break up crepitus (cool stuff again… http://www.grastontechnique.com/)
-Iontophoresis (a way to get medication through the skin using electrical current without an injection)
Other suggestions would be to ask your athletic trainer, physical therapist, doctor etc. for help finding the biomechanical source that is causing the problem. A gait analysis might helpful! I hope this injury doesn’t happen to any of you during your training, it is so frustrating!