Plantar Fasciitis | Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Updated: Sep 25

Plantar Fasciitis is a common injury that can occur to a runner at any point in their career. It can make light activities such as walking difficult and, at its worst, can make running impossible. This painful injury affects the heel and arch portion of the foot.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The arch of your foot is supported by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. When this area becomes over-exerted, microtears can form, causing pain and discomfort. These sensations may often be more dramatic in the morning but can persist throughout the day with activity.

Image by A.D.A.M.

Medline Plus - NIH National Library of Medicine

Factors contributing to plantar fasciitis in runners:

  • Running - Especially for new runners when there is a sudden increase in mileage or speed. In addition, the lack of mobility and flexibility in the ankle and foot can cause the fascia (the protective sheath supporting the muscles) to not stretch appropriately during movement.

  • Age - Naturally, as we age, the musculoskeletal system becomes tight due to decreased activity levels. These imbalances may contribute to developing this injury.

  • Improper footwear - Running in old, worn-out shoes increases your chances of developing foot and heel pain. Reach out to your local running shoe store to ensure you are in a properly fitted and supporting shoe.

Treatment for plantar fasciitis

Most people can continue to train but should decrease overall mileage to prevent a worsening of symptoms. Individuals may opt to cross-train with the bike in place of running. Taking time off from running entirely may slow healing because of the reduced blood flow to the area with inactivity.

  • Self-massage and rolling to the shin and calf is more effective than the foot itself. Most people tend to roll their plantar fascia too hard, creating more irritation. Again, this area does not have good blood flow, so rolling your foot alone isn't the best approach to promote healing.

  • Medical treatment - Medical intervention typically involves physical therapy and myofascial release/ muscle work (helpful in even minor cases). In worst-case scenarios, your medical professional may prescribe injections or surgery.

As a runner, you spend a tremendous amount of time on your feet. Your prehab routine should include foot and ankle mobility and strength exercises to reduce the chance of plantar fasciitis from occurring.

*This content is for educational purposes only. For your safety, always consult with a medical professional if you are experiencing pain or discomfort for appropriate assessments and management of your condition