Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating injuries I have ever had has been running with Plantar Fasciitis.
It is one of those horrible niggling injuries that seem to appear from nowhere and take forever to heal.
Well, I managed to help myself with this injury and below I will let you know just what I did.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes.
This can probably be best described as a shock absorber for the arch of your foot. With excessive tension and stress, this can cause small tears in the fascia which in turn can cause the inflammation.
Plantar Fasciitis is a Latin name meaning Inflammation of the Plantar Fascia which generally results in heel pain and sometimes pain in the arch of the foot.
The pain is generally felt when you get out of bed in the morning or have been seated for extended periods then start to walk.
In more severe cases the pain does not go away once you have started to walk – this was certainly the case for me.
Plantar Fasciitis is more common in individuals who are either:
- Commonly between the ages of 40 – 60
- Poor Footwear (more on that shortly)
- Over-Pronation (inward rolling of the foot causing stress on the foot arch)
Below is a really great video that explains Plantar Fasciitis and it’s definitely worth a look. It only lasts 3 minutes!
How Did I Get Plantar Fasciitis
If you look at the common causes above I definitely fit into a few of those and these are the likely causes.
I am between the age of 40 – 60. Honestly, I don’t think that was the reason for me getting the injury.
I have definitely become a little flat-footed as I was told by my Sports Therapist, so this is probably a reason for the injury.
Poor Footwear? I wouldn’t say poor footwear, but I like my trainers – lots of trainers.
I will talk about it later, but although I do buy very good footwear, this may have helped cause my issue.
I’m not overweight and on the last running analysis, I had I don’t over-pronate.
As footwear was probably the main reason for my injury I would like to talk in a little more detail on this.
Footwear and Plantar Fasciitis
It’s not just about the running that’s for sure.
My current day job is managing a warehouse and that involves a fair bit of walking around.
It also involves Safety Shoes, which generally if bought by the company can be of poor quality.
My shoes had to be a mixture of both Safety and Smart Office style. Unfortunately, this resulted in poor cushioned flat horrible fitting footwear. This definitely wouldn’t have helped.
Then we have running shoes. Training for Ultra Marathons means a lot of running within lots of different terrains.
I had shoes for the road, shoes for the trail, shoes that were neutral, zero-drop etc.
A few years ago, because I have fairly wide feet, I moved to Altra running shoes. Very comfortable but they are zero drop – meaning the height between the heel and the front of the foot is nothing.
These shoes do take a bit of getting used to because being zero-drop they initially stretch out your Achilles Tendon and Calves because your heel is lower to the ground than when wearing ‘normal’ shoes.
However, this was a few years ago but I still think for me it might have been the start of things – which is a shame because I love Altra shoes.
I generally run with an 8mm drop shoe now which strikes a good balance for me – but be aware, everyone is different.
The shoe I think that eventually caused the injury was a minimalist shoe.
It had a 3mm drop which I don’t believe was the real issue. The problem was that these shoes don’t have any support, or at least it’s very minimal.
I was running on the roads and on the trails with a very minimal shoe. This ultimately put a lot of pressure on my feet and to a degree my running stance.
Of course, these shoes work great for some people but unfortunately not me and I think they were my downfall as far as the injury was concerned.
The Frustration of Plantar Fasciitis
The thing about this injury, it just came out of nowhere and boy did it arrive with a bang.
It happened in December of 2018, so not long ago.
I had been doing some light training runs leading up to it so nothing unusual.
A bit of gym work with Rowing and some Kettlebells which I like to do during the winter season.
Then one day I was out doing a steady 10-mile trail run and I started to feel some pain in my foot after about 3 miles.
I didn’t think too much about it to start with until the pain moved from my heel to the arch of my right foot to the point I had to stop running at around 6 miles.
I remember it well because it was pouring with rain. The winds were high, I was bloody freezing and I was walking over hills in a very open environment.
Every time I tried to run I would get about 20 yards and have to stop because of the discomfort.
I thought it was just a strain and it would resolve itself quickly – how wrong I was.
Then I saw my sports therapist who told me the injury commonly lasts 12 months and that I need to stop wearing the wrong type of footwear.
So I sulked about for a while feeling sorry for myself thinking that it would heal itself – after all, I generally heal quickly. Not this time.
So at the beginning of March 2019, 4 weeks ago as I write this post, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
It’s safe to say I have never been a big believer in medication when I don’t feel well.
Of course, medication works for some, but I have always felt that the body is amazing at healing itself – which of course it is.
I got to the point with Plantar Fasciitis that I was advised that I should arrange a Cortisone Injection.
Now, I know that Cortisone Injections are popular and common but I had a different view on it.
I know that too many injections can cause issues.
But more to the point I always worry that with the pain being taken away I would carry on as normal.
I always worry that I could be doing myself further damage by not feeling the pain.
Feeling pain tells you there is something wrong and needs to be resolved.
I hope that made sense? Anyhow, I decided not to have the injection and try and resolve things as naturally as possible.
Diet & Nutrition
As I am someone who follows the Plant-Based Diet it’s safe to say that I also believe in the healing power of food.
Now there are a number of foods to add to your diet that acts as anti-inflammatory’s. These are my medication and whenever you have an injury it’s worth considering to power of the following foods:
- Broccoli – contains sulforaphane, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.
- Avocados – One of the superfoods in my opinion. Full of Potassium, Magnesium and monounsaturated fats.
- Green Tea – Contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). An anti-inflammatory.
- Turmeric – An amazing spice contains a nutrient called Curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
- Dark Chocolate – My favourite. Contains antioxidants called Flavanols which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Tomatoes – contain Lycopene which may reduce inflammation.
- Peppers – Bell and Chilli peppers contain sinapic acid, quercetin and ferulic acid which are antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
As you can see, these are not the most difficult foods to incorporate into your diet, are they?
I’m not one of those people that say ‘you should eat this’ or’ you should eat that’
But I think it’s absolutely worth just reading up on the benefits of a Plant-Based Diet so you can see the power of food and what it can do for us all.
If you see any medical professional about Plantar Fasciitis they will tell you to do stretching.
However, as I have learnt, it’s not all about stretches within the area of pain.
The first thing I started to do was use a tennis ball, or small roller to start doing some deep tissue massage into the Plantar Fascia area.
The reason for this is that it stimulates blood flow around the area which in turn starts the healing process.
It also helps break up the scar tissue that restricts movement and causes pain.
Next was the standard stretching of the calves and foot area. Lean against a wall, one foot back, one foot forward and bend the knee of the front leg to stretch out the rear calf and foot.
You can also stand on the stairs with your heel off the back, then lower and raise to help strengthen the foot area.
These are all fairly standard and I’m sure they are ok, but they won’t resolve the whole issue.
There are 2 stretches/exercises I implemented that I believe made all the difference.
The first is the wall stretch as outlined above, only this time you cross the front leg over the rear to change the angle of the foot.
Please watch the video below, because this was a game-changer for me and it’s so bloody simple.
One other thing that I learnt over a year ago when I had a different injury is that having weak Glutes (Butt Muscles) can be the cause of so many other injuries.
From Plantar Fasciitis to Calf strains, to knee issues, to hip issues, can all be attributed to weak Glutes.
I had an issue last year where I was getting terrible knee and hip pain about 5 miles into my runs.
I started seeing a Sports Therapist who said to me that I needed to seriously strengthen my glutes to clear up these injuries.
My body was overcompensating in other areas which eventually caused the injuries.
Within a week of starting the glute strengthening exercises my knee and hip pain had cleared up.
So I incorporated the same regime to try and help with the Plantar Fasciitis – although I should never have stopped in the first place.
You can check out the video below which shows some excellent Glute strengthening exercised for you to try.
Other Fixes for Plantar Fasciitis
There were 2 other things I incorporated to help try and fix my issues and get me back to running again.
I have stopped mixing up my running shoes. I’m sticking with an 8mm drop shoe with plenty of cushioning for both trail and road.
My shoes of choice are both made by the same manufacturer.
They are the Columbia Montrail Bajada 3 – this shoe got me through my 86 mile Ultra Marathon last year and I still actually have the same pair today.
Also, Columbia Montrail Variant XSR which is a road to trail shoe, which again offers amazing comfort and protection.
The only other thing I have done is buy a pair of inserts for my work shoes.
They are the OrthoSole Max Cushion for my safety shoes and have been an absolute godsend whilst I’m at work.
Obviously, I’m not a doctor and I don’t work within the medical profession
However, what I can say is that I implemented what I have outlined in this post at the beginning of March after 3 months of pain and frustration with Plantar Fasciitis.
I was advised to go and have a cortisone injection which I decided not to do.
So I ensured I was incorporating as many anti-inflammatory foods into my diet as I could.
Started doing some deep tissue massage with a ball and a roller.
Started doing some of the stretches outlined above and ensured I did my Glute strengthening exercises.
I standardised my running shoes to keep the same heel to toe drop that suited me and have maximum support and cushioning.
Then I purchased some insoles to add comfort to my awful work shoes.
4 weeks later, I’m back to running, which I couldn’t do last month and I’m definitely on the mend.
I wouldn’t say it’s completely healed as yet, but I’m no longer in pain. At worst you could call it a bit of discomfort now and again, but it’s so much better and improving every day.
I really hope you found this post useful and if you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis.
Hopefully, it may give you a few ideas on how you could try to eliminate the issues you have today.
If you have any comments, or indeed any other remedies or exercises that have helped cure the issue please leave them in the comments section below.
I would love to hear from you.
All the very best,