Plantar Fasciitis : from the acute phase to the recovery phase
Good news! My plantar fasciitis is improving and I am past the acute phase and into the recovery phase.
During the early part of the acute phase the main focus was to control inflammation and decrease pain. I rested my foot and was off running for 7 days. I also kept walking to short distances. I used Ibuprofen to reduce swelling and help with the pain, as well as cold massage, using a frozen water bottle or a cold can of soft-drink and rolling my foot on top of the bottle over the painful area. Just take a frozen water bottle and massage your foot, here’s an instructional video:
My physiotherapist worked on my calf muscles to release tension and reduce stress on my plantar fascia, and prescribed stretches to relax the plantar fascia and elongate my calf and Achilles. In the latter part of the acute phase, I focussed on my stretches and massage to ease up my calves and stretch my Achilles, continuing foot stretches and using tennis and golf-ball massage to really get into the plantar fascia. Here’s a video showing the technique I used for my tennis ball and golf ball massage:
You can also ‘double up’ with cold and massage to help alleviate symptoms. To do this I put a couple of golf balls in the freezer and then used them to massage my foot as shown in the tennis ball video.
Active Rest: Don’t recover on your couch!
‘Active rest’ is key during the latter part of the acute phase so you don’t lose fitness and strength, so it’s important to find alternative forms of training that keep your fitness levels up but do not stress the fascia. For my active rest I got back on the bike so my cardio fitness was maintained, though I have read that a lot of people choose swimming as it has no impact. Whatever you choose, make sure it is a low or nil impact exercise that will get blood and oxygen flowing, which assists to speed up your body’s repair.
As it has now been a few weeks and the condition is improving I have also started football training again as I find the ‘fartlek’ type training on grass good for my cardio fitness, without the impact of running on pavement or the long repetitive straining that comes with long running on the pavement. I have found taping for support and compression to be useful too. Here is a video which shows you how to replicate the taping that my physio did for me. I do the first part of the taping with the anchor strap and cross straps, the optional ‘top of foot’ taping restricts my movement too much and I don’t find it necessary.
There are other taping techniques which provide even more support, however I wouldn’t recommend it on the basis that if you need that much taping on your foot just to complete ‘active rest’ activities, then your active rest activity is far too stressful, or you are still too early in the acute phase to be doing active rest.
Onwards and upwards: the recovery phase
Looking ahead to the recovery phase I have been doing some research and also speaking to my physiotherapist as to how best to recover and ensure an ongoing reduction in the stress on my plantar fascia. This mainly revolves around stretches and exercises to elongate my calves while keeping them strong, and to keep my plantar fascia elongated. However, while doing some research on the condition the other night I found out two keys things which can exacerbate the problem which were outside of the physical recovery processes I am undertaking:
1) Everyday shoes which are loose and without good arch support.
2) Worn out trainers.
‘Tick, tick’ went my little brain as I read that.
My work shoes are leather ankle boots without laces, and no arch support. ‘Tick’ number one. Sounds like a simple fix so it’s time to invest in some dress shoes with laces and better arch support!
Looking at my trainers (ASICS Gel Kinsei – great shoes) I thought about it and realised that I had trained for, and completed a marathon, in them and had continued jogging in them since. ‘Tick’ number two.
I did a quick total in my head and figured I must have done about 700km in them but they still looked in good shape and weren’t worn on the soles. Most advice says to replace shoes between 500km and 900km, so mine were on the cusp. Just to check I logged onto my Garmin connect account and filtered out my other activities and just got results for my running in these shoes. I was gob-smacked…
Over 1100km! And that didn’t count any runs done without my Garmin, nor the walking done in the shoes! Well past replacement time!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that dress shoes or worn trainers will give you plantar fasciitis, but I do think that they can exacerbate the problem. As I said in a previous post, the main contributing factor to my plantar fasciitis was laziness. Lazy warm-up and cool down, and a complete disregard for my stretching routine. I will put up an article on proper warm-up and cool downs, and the pros and cons of static stretching soon, but in the meantime I’m focussing on a good recovery.
Also, my research has now changed to something much more enjoyable, new running gear! Who doesn’t love a new pair of shiny new trainers?
Get Going, Get Running!