Running is a tough sport. It requires mental strength, physical strength, dedication and perseverance through the many adversities that runners face. Running is one of the most physically demanding sports, mainly because you put your body through constant jarring and rigorous movement. The result, for even the most skilled runners, is often injury. The most common running injuries can be traced back to overuse of, and under-care of, your muscles.
Even though the cause of most overuse running injuries is directly connected to something surrounding your run, whether it is technique, equipment, training, etc., some injuries can be spurred by an event that is completely unrelated. Plantar Fasciitis, or deep pain stemming from your heel, is one of those injuries. Often caused by increasing your training too quickly, wearing poor quality shoes, or not stretching enough, I made a seemingly innocent move that spiraled into a more serious injury.
So what is Plantar Fasciitis? To understand plantar fasciitis, you need to know a few things about the components of your feet. There is a large band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. This is called
plantar fascia. When your plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated, pain often materializes on, or right in front of, your heel.
Causes & How to Prevent Them:
⦁ Straining your plantar fascia can be caused from a few things. If you increase your training regimen by too many miles per week, you’re putting too much strain on your feet. It’s recommended to only increase mileage by about 10% each week.
⦁ Secondly, you can damage your plantar fascia if you switch too quickly or too often from running on hard surfaces, like concrete or asphalt, to softer surfaces like the solid polyurethane you find on typical tracks. It’s also important to consider the incline at which you’re running. If you like to train on hills, make sure you’re taking extra care of your feet and heels, stretching and resting at the first sign of pain.
⦁ Lastly, make sure you have appropriate cushioning in your shoes. The perfect amount of cushion is dependent upon each individual person. A lot of factors play into what kind of shoes are right for you, like whether you run on your heels or toes, or whether you pronate (the tendency to roll your foot inward while walking or running) or under-pronate (the tendency to roll your foot outward while walking or running). So, in order to find the exact right shoe for you, do some research, find a store that specializes in running shoes, and be flexible- you may need to try a few shoes before you find the right one!
As stated before, plantar fasciitis has many causes, but sometimes the cause is out of your control.
How I got hurt:
Along with running, I also love playing volleyball. I played volleyball throughout high school and college. One of my favorite ways to spend time outdoors is to play sand volleyball, and one day when I was playing at a particularly low quality court, I injured my foot, and that was the beginning of plantar fasciitis for me. The court was barely a sand court; instead, it was concrete with a little bit of sand on top. After jumping to hit the ball over the net, I landed on my right heel, and the sand provided no cushioning. My heel immediately hurt, pain flaring intensely. I thought it would just be a short-lived injury, healing after a day or two of rest. However, I didn’t alter my running routine, I didn’t stretch any muscles connected to my plantar fascia, and I didn’t give my injury enough attention to realize that I was only making it worse with my ignorance.
The important lesson I learned was to not ignore my heel pain. Eventually, I looked into what might have caused my injury, and I started treating my plantar fasciitis. However, it took a few long, painful months for me to start feeling better, and there were definitely other options if I had consulted a professional and been more mindful about taking care of myself.