I started a new training plan last week and added plyometrics to the mix. Plyometrics is a great method to improve running speed, which is a personal goal of mine this season. After only two plyometric workouts, I noticed an annoying pain on the bottom of my foot. It felt like I was standing on a golf ball or marble at times. Luckily for me, I know what to do and it has resolved 95% in the last week. This week, I want to share the knowledge with you, so you’ll know too if it ever happens to you.
Have you heard of plantar fasciitis? If you’re still sounding it out, try saying plant-r fash-itis. It is a long medical word, but I promise to not go into all the medical jargon. Basically, it is the fascia (tissue structure) on the bottom (plantar) surface of your foot. When this structure becomes irritated, it’s typically referred to as plantar fasciitis.
Did you know 1 in 10 people will have plantar fasciitis in their lifetime? It's that common. Crazy to think of I know. It can sideline you from running, lifting heavy or box jumps. You don’t have to be an athlete to be affected either. Many people struggle with it when they stand on hard concrete at work all day. The recorded stats show it as the 3rd most common injury for runners.
Have you ever dreaded putting your feet on the ground when you first wake up? Oh, and just being a Monday doesn’t count in this case. This is a very real issue for those working through plantar fasciitis. Pain on the bottom of the foot after inactivity, sleeping or sitting awhile, is one of the most common symptoms. Typically, the more you move the better it feels. Although by the end of the day the accumulative activity builds up and can cause irritation.
Sounds frustrating, I know. Well, good news. Being proactive can save you from needing medical help. When symptoms are addressed within the first few weeks the condition typically resolves. Left untreated and continuing to train through it, can leave you with 6 months or more of chronic pain.
Ready to take action? Here’s what you can do:
1. Consider the use of NSAIDS (over the counter anti-inflammatory). If you have been dealing with it for weeks, you are likely past an inflammation stage and this may not be helpful.
2. Stretch the plantar fascia …see how to here.
3. Use a tennis ball or pvc pipe to roll under your foot. Adjust your pressure according to your tolerance, the goal is not to be a hero with this.
The above action steps are a good start. If you continue to have symptoms or simply want expert help, reach out and we can chat. The steps above are low-cost options that can be DIY at home. The last thing I want is to send you out purchasing additional items if it can be first resolved with these foundational methods.
I wish you the best of luck if you are self-treating. These steps and a modification to my running schedule are what allowed a 95% recovery in a week for me personally. Did I stop running you may wonder? Nope. I did, however, eliminate my speed work and focus on moderate distance and a comfortable pace.
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Written by: Dr. Shari Orthopedic Physical Therapist, Exercise Scientist
Cornwall MW, McPoil TG. Plantar fasciitis: etiology and treatment. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1999;29(12):756–60. pmid:10612073
Tahririan et al. Plantar fasciitis. Jour Res Med Sci. 2012 Aug; 799-804.
Ribeiro et al. Dynamic Patterns of Forces and Loading Rate in runners with Unilateral Plantar fascitis. Published 16 September 2015. Accessed 13 March 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136971