Plantar Fasciitis

Keep calves limber and change up training surfaces

A very high arch, overpronation, or a flat foot can cause irritation.     Photo: dmuth/flickr

The injury:
Plantar fasciitis affects approximately two million people in this country and sends half of those people to their doctors annually, according to a 2010 study in US Musculoskeletal Review.

Shooting heel pain can occur when the plantar fascia, a thick connective tissue on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch, gets inflamed. The pain often affects people in the morning when they first get out of bed, and can take up to ten months to treat. Plantar fasciitis is often cited as the most common running injury after runner’s knee.

How to prevent it:
“Several things can irritate the plantar fascia,” says Dr. F. Kennedy Gordon, a sports medicine physician for USA Track and Field. “A very high arch, overpronation, or a flat foot can cause irritation. If you have a very tight calf, it will pull on your heel and cause pressure on the plantar fascia.” He adds that always running on hard pavement, or in old shoes, can also contribute to the problem.

Some studies have shown that orthotics significantly reduce pain in people who already suffer from plantar fasciitis. Gordon also recommends that runners who race practice running in race shoes before the event. The transition from a cushioned training shoe to spikes or racing flats can be an unwelcome jolt to the musculoskeletal system.

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