What Merrell shoes for plantar fasciitis
Prevent and treat plantar fasciitis - this is how you get rid of the pain in the foot
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most dreaded runner injuries. If you have ever suffered from or are currently suffering from an inflammation of the plantar fascia, then you know how painful and at the same time protracted this injury can be.
As a tendon plate in the area of the sole of the foot, the plantar fascia forms the arch of the foot and stabilizes it. Without it, our feet would be flat and we would lack the ability to cushion our body weight while walking and running.
At least now it becomes clear why the plantar fascia often causes problems for us runners - because when running, a multiple of our body weight acts on it with every step.
In this post you will find out what plantar fasciitis is and what symptoms it manifests itself with, what you can do if you are affected - and what measures you can take to minimize your risk of injury.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the most common symptom in the heel area. An estimated 10% of all people will have plantar fasciitis at some point in their life, although the risk is higher for the obese, runners and people who stand a lot at work.
The ending "itis" indicates a inflammation the plantar fascia. Strictly speaking, however, it is not always an inflammation. Often, overuse of the fascia is enough to cause severe pain. One then speaks of a plantar fasciosis or a plantar fasciopathy.
Most runners notice the characteristic pain on the sole of the foot in the heel area for the first time while running. Later on, the pain can also be felt when getting up in the morning - similar to irritation or inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Even after long breaks, for example a few hours in a sitting position, the pain is clearly noticeable.
The reason for this: The lack of stress on the plantar fascia at rest shortens it. A subsequent stretching of the foot and toe while walking or running causes the typical irritation and thus pain.
Often the pain is felt to be even worse immediately after exercise (e.g. running training).
In the vast majority of cases, the plantar fasciitis occurs unilaterally. Only in less than a third of the cases are the plantar fasciae in the right and left foot affected at the same time.
It is interesting that in 80% of all cases plantar fasciitis is accompanied by irritation of the Achilles tendon. That makes a clear diagnosis and therapy difficult. If in doubt, we recommend that you always consult a specialist who can make a clear diagnosis using imaging techniques.
And it is always wise to do something about plantar fasciitis as soon as possible. If you wait or continue training despite the pain, in the worst case scenario, the plantar fasciitis can develop into a distant spur.
How does plantar fasciitis develop?
Unfortunately, this question cannot yet be answered clearly. Various causes and development models are discussed.
- Malpositions of the feet such as a flat or arched foot, one in general weak foot muscles, Leg length differences, one inflexible Achilles tendon or one Overpronation cause the plantar fascia to be stressed and overstretched when walking.
- At a firm and tense calf muscles the calf transfers a great deal of tension to the plantar fascia. As a result, the arch of the foot can no longer be adequately stabilized, the fascia is stretched too much and small tears can appear in the fascia.
- The overload of the calf muscles can in turn be caused by a too weak gluteal muscles be evoked. A small muscle - the calf - then partially takes on the tasks of a large muscle - the gluteal muscles (safe walking, an upright stance, the thrust forwards when walking).
- By a too weak core muscles there is no balance to gravity. The toes dig into the ground to stabilize the body weight in order to maintain a better balance. Here, too, small muscles take over the work of large muscles (toes vs. torso), and the plantar fascia is overloaded.
Often it is not the one misalignment or the overload that causes inflammation or pain in the plantar fascia. A mix of various overloads, imbalances and unbalanced training can lead to irritation in the long term.
In addition, many runners do not notice the first signs such as slight pain and morning stiffness or ignore the pain for the time being because a competition is coming up or the training plan is to be adhered to.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
If you feel pain in your foot, the first step is to use the following characteristics to determine whether your symptoms indicate plantar fasciitis:
- Plantar fasciitis often shows up through one typical morning heel pain. The first steps after getting up are painful, rolling the soles of the feet is only possible to a limited extent. The pain often subsides a little in the course of the morning.
- also you can feel the pain yourself. If you press firmly into the soles of your feet with your fingers, you will notice that it really hurts.
- Plantar fasciitis is common the ability to "pull up" the ankle in the direction of the back of the foot is restricted (Dorsiflexion). If you have unilateral foot pain, you can check whether there is a difference between right and left in this regard.
If in doubt, we recommend that you always consult a specialist who can make a clear diagnosis using imaging techniques.
- The plantar fascia is thickened on ultrasound. At the start of the tendon, it is at least 4 mm thick or at least 0.6 mm thicker than on the unaffected foot.
- When X-ray is Heel spur visible in 50% of all cases.
Therapeutic measures for plantar fasciitis
Due to the multitude of possible causes and influencing factors, a general therapy recommendation for plantar fasciitis is difficult or even impossible.
Many examples of those affected show that a single measure is usually not sufficient and that one has to “try out” the various approaches. In most cases, a mix of different measures leads to success.
In acute pain, the first thing you should do is to take a break from running so that the inflammation can subside. Use the idle time to work specifically on possible weak points (see below).
To maintain your stamina, you can temporarily switch to other sports such as cycling or swimming, which put less strain on the foot than running.
Massage the soles of your feet at least 2-3 times a day, for example with a hedgehog ball *, a tennis or lacrosse ball * or a golf ball.
There is still no consensus on whether you should roll over the painful area or leave it out. Decide here what is good for you - but it is by no means about creating and enduring as much pain as possible when massaging!
In addition to the sole of the foot, you can also roll out the calf and Achilles tendon. There is a special roller * with a recess for the Achilles tendon, which should enable an even better massage of the Achilles tendon (see also point 4 in our guide to Achilles tendon pain).
It has already been mentioned earlier - plantar fasciitis is often based on muscular deficits. You should therefore work specifically on your weak points.
The feet are our foundation, and hours of walking and standing in uncomfortable shoes are not exactly conducive to well-developed foot muscles.
There are countless exercises for the feet that neither take a lot of time nor are particularly complicated - and which you can therefore do on the side. We have put together a selection of our favorite exercises in this article.
If you haven't already, switch from an elevator or escalator to climbing stairs. That costs practically no time (you will often reach your goal even faster) and trains your calves, thighs and glutes (and of course your stamina) "on the side".
The classic for your glutes are squats, which you can vary in difficulty as you like (one-legged, two-legged, with or without weight).
You can find more exercises that are very helpful for runners in our article on the runner's knee.
Here, too, the "classics" like front and side support are among the best exercises. Instructions for many core stabilization exercises can be found in this post.
Stretch your calf muscles, your Achilles tendon and your plantar fascia, preferably several times a day.
- You can find out how to stretch the twin calf muscle and the clod muscle in the calf here (these are the first two exercises in the article).
- For the Achilles tendon, you can also do the stair step exercise and spend some time in a deep squat several times a day (described under points 6 and 7 in this article).
And the following exercise is recommended for the plantar fascia:
- Kneel on the floor and put your toes up. Make sure that as many toes as possible are in contact with the floor or your mat.
- Now sit with your buttocks towards your heels until you feel tension in the soles of your feet. You can control the intensity by shifting your body weight further forwards or backwards.
- Hold this position for ideally 30 seconds (even if it is painful) and repeat it two to three times.
Therapy options at the doctor
Doctors offer a range of therapy options for plantar fasciitis, the effectiveness of which has sometimes been more and sometimes less well documented and the costs of which you have to pay yourself in part.
Examples are tape bandages, orthopedic insoles, various drugs such as cortisone, botulinum toxin or anti-inflammatory painkillers, shock wave therapy, surgical interventions or manual therapy by physiotherapists.
Our recommendation is that you always take the general measures outlined above (pausing, massage, strength training and stretching) and discuss the sense of further treatment options with your doctor.
How can you prevent plantar fasciitis?
It is well known that prevention is better than cure - and that is why we would like to conclude with a few tips that you can use to minimize your risk of plantar fasciitis.
Train sensibly and slowly increase the volume
Increase your running training slowly - especially after periods in which you have run less.
This also means that if you plan to take part in a half marathon, marathon or ultramarathon, you should start preparing well in advance - and not just 12 weeks in advance. This is the only way you will have enough time to gradually approach larger and larger volumes.
In this article you will find out which requirements you should meet if you want to start a targeted preparation for a 10 km run, a half marathon or a marathon. If you stick to our recommendations, you minimize the risk of asking too much too quickly.
Work on the weak points that are typical for runners
And that means in concrete terms:
- Strengthen your feet and glutes
- Stretch your foot and calf muscles
Are you familiar with that? Correct! These are exactly the same measures that we recommend in the therapy section above.
General strength, stability and flexibility training should have a permanent place in your training plan. The more athletic you are, the faster and more efficiently you will run, and the less often you will have to pause due to injuries.
I hope that you can get your plantar fasciitis under control with the tips from this post (or avoid it). And of course I look forward to your feedback in the comments: Have you ever been affected yourself? Which measures have helped you to be able to walk again without pain?
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