Plantar Fasciitis in Runners – A Common Syndrome
Neha came to the doctor’s clinic, crying with pain, limping on her right leg. She was unable to balance herself on her right feet flat on the ground. She was walking on her toes when the doctor saw her. Neha was an athlete, running miles of kilometers on flat grounds, climbing hills and incline surfaces early in the morning was her passion.
This caused her to endure several leg injuries in the past. Frequent pain in her feet was her primary concern which had disturbed her running schedule regularly. Damage in her heel did not seem like a big deal to her, but it did affect how she walked and her ability to work out.
She had undergone several treatments right from analgesics to various types of therapies, acupuncture, foam rolling, etc. All of these gave her temporary symptomatic relief but would reoccur again. And, of course, this time, the pain had increased tremendously and had left her limping, almost handicapped from doing her daily routine as well.
Then she thought of finding the root cause of this problem and finding an appropriate solution to it.
Oh God, It's Plantar Fasciitis!
After consulting Orthopaedics and undergoing a various medical examination; finally, she was diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis.
Ghosh! This name itself sounded weird to her as if she is suffering from some dreadful disease with no solution to it. She thought it would render her disabled forever.
The doctor calmed and explained to her the preventive measures and recommended treatment for taking care of her feet in the best possible ways if she wants to continue as runner athlete.
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS (PF)?
The plantar fascia is a very thick band of tissue which stretches from your heel bone to your toes and creates an arch in your foot. Overuse or overstretching can make it inflamed and painful, which makes walking difficult.
Is Plantar Fasciitis – in Runners a Common Syndrome?
Sudden Increase in Intensity - It is observed in those runners who have increased the intensity of their training program too quickly. Instead, there should be a gradual increase in the number of days and the distance covered per week of each run.
Hill Runners - Hill training loads the foot more than running on a level surface. This increase in strain can lead to Achilles Tendon issues, calf tears, or Plantar Fasciitis in runners.
Ballistic movements - Jumping, sprinting, and skipping can add significant load to the foot in and can lead to Plantar Fasciitis. It also affects the recreational athlete in boot camp or body attack type classes too.
Tight Calf Muscles - Plantar Fasciitis in runners with tight calf muscles is extremely common. Running is a movement that loads the calf muscles, and this lower leg muscle group must be stretched after each run.
Wrong Shoes - Unsuitable running shoes can lead to Plantar Fasciitis in runners.
Inappropriate Running Style – Improper running posture can cause tightening of calf muscles and extra pulling on the heel. This is turn puts an overload of pressure with each foot stride; creating a stretch of the plantar fascia on the heel leading to Plantar Fasciitis.
Conservative treatment - Exercises involving heel and foot stretching improves the condition with time. Luckily, there is actually an easy trick to provide quick relief. Performing the tennis ball stretch, it creates a pull in your muscles without causing pain. However, do so only under a therapist's supervision for better results.
Stretching with TENNIS BALL – is a simple activity to treat affected tendon for a few minutes and get good relief from fascia pain. Stretching exercises relieves the tightness of the plantar fascia tissue. It also relieves the tightness of your calf muscle and Achilles tendon.
How to do the Tennis Ball Stretch?
- Sit on the chair with backrest.
- Place the arch of the foot on the tennis ball.
- Roll the ball back and forth along the arch of the foot.
- Using your body weight, push your foot on the tennis ball.
- Slowly and gradually perform this exercise in standing position.
Neha understood and followed her doctor and therapist advice, and today, she is back on her feet, fit and exceptional, running every day with ease.