Plantar fasciitis : the recovery continues
With seemingly more episodes than the Star Wars saga you might be getting sick of my Plantar Fasciitis posts, however I hope this post is able to be of some use to you in your recovery as well.
Before we get ahead of ourselves – I am not fully recovered – it is a long process. I am not yet at the ability level I was before my injury, but I am getting closer! For instance, I am back to training with my Australian Rules Football team (about 5km of Fartlek style training per session) and have even played two competitive matches. However, I still get pain if I stand for too long in unsupportive work shoes and I still have noticeable tightness in my plantar fascia after I wake. The shooting pain through the heel in the first steps of the morning is gone though. Thank heavens!
I am also happy to report that I was able to spend the long weekend in sunny Istanbul (lucky me!) walking around all day and night, without too much in the way of whingeing from my plantar fascia. Sure, it got tight and a little tender, but static stretches on my calves and Achilles and a couple of Ibuprofen were able to sort it out enough that I could be on my feet for most of the day, for 3 days in a row.
Moving swiftly on to the subject at hand, I credit my recovery so far to:
- no running during the acute phase, following my diagnosis
- use of massage, ice therapy and ibuprofen (no more than recommended dosage) to reduce inflammation
- a strong focus on static stretches to elongate calf muscles, Achilles heel and the plantar fascia itself
- in the sub-acute phase the use of cross-training to maintain cardio fitness, a gradual build-up to running, and the continuation of my static stretching routine
- Time. Most injuries react positively to time, and I haven’t pushed the boundaries in trying to get back to running and it think this has helped
Now that I am getting much less pain and am returning to running, I am trying to strengthen my feet with exercises to make sure my foot musculature is up to the rigours of running. I am now 22 weeks out from a marathon and it’s about time to get running! While looking for exercises to help strengthen my foot and lower limbs I stumbled upon some great exercises on the Vibram Five Fingers website. The exercises are actually for assisting in transitioning from ‘regular’ running to ‘barefoot’ running; however I think that foot and lower limb strength are just as important for regular runners and the exercises are certainly suitable for runners who still wear shoes. Certainly they seem to be helping me with my foot strength.
Here are the Vibram foot exercises I have been doing:
- Heel raise
- Toe grip
- Dorsi/plantar flexion
- Toe spread/tap
- Exaggerated eversion/inversion
- Grabbing a towel on the floor with toes and pass to other foot
Image credit: www.vibramfivefingers.com
Here is the link to the full Vibram Five Finger education article that these exercises come from. “Step 3” is about the exercises and includes more descriptions, however the whole article is worth a read even if you are not contemplating a move to barefoot running, as I think the general ethos of the article is applicable to ‘regular’ runners as well.
I will persevere with these exercises and intend to go for an easy run this weekend and see how it goes. Wish me luck!
Good luck and a speedy recovery to all you fellow plantar fasciitis sufferers as well!
Get Going, Get Running