For a runner, plantar fasciitis can stop you in your tracks. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and one of the most preventable. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that holds the bones on the bottom of the foot, linking the heel bone to the toes and, when inflamed, can cause excruciating pain throughout the bottom of the foot. When too much pressure or tension is placed on the plantar fascia, it can create small tears, and repetitive stretching and tearing causes irritation and inflammation in the bottom of the foot. Morning heel pain is the most common type of pain; however, one can expect to experience increased pain after long periods of running or walking, which gradually results in a dull, aching feeling upon rest. Plantar fasciitis develops gradually and usually affects one foot; however, it is not uncommon to have heel pain in both feet.
From a runner's standpoint, the basic cause for plantar fasciitis is a sudden increase in your workout routine. For example, if you decide to train for a marathon and you increase your mileage to rapidly, you can damage the tissue in the foot. Another cause would be wearing improper shoes. It is important to choose shoes with good arch support and be sure to replace your shoes every 400 to 500 miles of use.
There are several anti-inflammatory medications that can be taken to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis, such as Advil, Motrin, or Aleve, or a physical therapist can recommend exercises or stretches that can be done to strengthen lower leg muscles which will help stabilize the heel. Your doctor might recommend night splints to hold the plantar fascia in place during the night to ease some of the morning heel pain, or you may find it necessary to wear an orthodic in your shoe. In some cases, surgery may be required; however, there are certain risks and side effects.
If you continue to run when experiencing plantar fasciitis, it can cause serious damage to your foot and interfere with your daily activities. Other problems may also develop, such as knee, hip or back pain. It is imperative that you seek medical advice at the onset of pain in order to avoid further injury.