Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plantar Fasciitis? Try This...

Chances are if you're a runner, you've either experienced plantar fasciitis or know someone who has. This painful, nagging, and hard-to-get-rid-of injury affects the plantar fascia—the band of tissue that begins at the heel runs under the arch and splits off and attaches to the metatarsals. If you're an excessive pronator or if you have arch problems, then the plantar fascia picks up the strain. Problem is that the plantar fascia isn't really able to stretch so instead it tears. When these little tears heal, scar tissue is created. Scar tissue stretches even less. See a vicious cycle starting? Usually what the runner feels is pain under the heel. I also felt pain at the metatarsals. Often the pain recedes as you begin to walk or run, but once you stop and you've been still for a while that nagging pain returns. When I had plantar fasciitis, I noticed it the most in the morning when getting up. I looked like a little old man hobbling around until my feet loosened up.

So what do you do for Plantar Fasciitis? There are a variety of things a doctor might have you try such as ice, taping, wearing heel pads, orthotics, flexibility exercises, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and possibly even surgery. My doc had me put heel cups in my shoes and he gave me a couple of stretching exercises to do. One involved putting a towel on the floor in front of my foot and using my toes to scrunch up the towel and draw it toward me. The other exercise involved slowly flexing my toes back, stretching the plantar fascia. All of this helped, but the thing that helped bring the most relief was a little gadget called a Foot Wheel.

The Foot Wheel falls into that ever growing "Why Didn't I Think of That" category of mine. Basically it's a small metal rod that's about 4-inches long. There's a hard plastic wheel in the middle and one on each end of the bar. How does it work? Place the wheel on the floor and then roll your foot across the wheels. That's it! I've read where you can do the same basic thing by rolling your foot along a soup can or a tennis ball. I've tried these methods and both helped, but with the Foot Wheel, I was able to really hit those pressure points getting a better stretch of the plantar fascia.

If you're experiencing plantar fasciitis, then be prepared the first time you use the foot wheel. It hurts like hell! But bite the bullet and roll your foot (the entire length) along the wheel making sure to hit all the pressure points. After a few days, the pain while using the wheel started to subside and better yet, I started to notice my plantar fasciitis symptoms disappear. I had my first and only case of plantar fascitis about 7 years ago. I've used my lil foot wheel every night since then. I keep it beside my bed and the last thing I do before hitting the hay is to roll both feet several times along the wheel. I really do believe that doing this has helped keep my platar fascia limber and injury-free (knock on wood). Making sure I don't pack too many miles on any one pair of shoes has also helped. You see, my plantar fasciitis was the result of running a really long run on an old pair of worn out shoes. Never a good idea.

I've seen the Foot Wheel sold at marathon expos and at several different online running sites. I bought mine online at RoadRunnerSports.
For more detailed information regarding plantar fasciitis, check out the video clip below.

15 comments:

Eric Beard said...

Thank you for the information.

Have you ever looked at why the foot might be over-pronating and aggravating the plantar fascia?

Eric Beard

AndyO said...

Thanks for the info. Maybe I'll give it a shot. I've been wearing one of those special boots at night to keep the plantar fascia flexed, so it can heal in that position. It works if the boot doesn't fall off while I'm sleeping or better yet, if I actually wear it (sometimes I get lazy and leave it off). I don't do stretches, like I should. I'm told that I should be doing them several times a day.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Eric! Good point. I didn't mention that to really get rid of plantar fasciitis you should actually get to the source of the problem. From what I've read it's usually a mechancial problem. Often it can be corrected with proper shoe selection and/or orthodics designed to help correct overpronation. Can also just be due to wearing wornout shoes that no longer provide the needed support. I've been working on my midfoot strike. Don't know if it's true, but seems like heel strikers would have more problems with plantar fasciitis. I'll have to read up on that. Thanks man!

RunnerDude said...

Hey AndyO!I've seen the sock too. Seems like that would work well, but I haven't tried it. Seems like I read that it works by keeping the plantar fascia stretched while you sleep. But, like any treatment, even the Foot Wheel, you gotta use it for it to work. LOL!! I'm guilty of lack-of-follow-through with treatmens as well, but I'm pretty dedicated to using my Foot Wheel. A habit now. (No, the Foot Wheel people are paying me. LOL!)

The Happy Runner said...

That foot wheel looks like it might feel good on the foot whether or not one has PF! Thanks for the info!

WYOTRI said...

Good info, something else that I've heard helps out is to freeze a water bottle and roll it under the foot like the foot wheel. The ice is supposed to help with the inflammation.

RunnerDude said...

Hey The Happy Runner! It really is a nice foot massage. After the plantar fasciitis has cleared up, just using the wheel as a preventative measure does feel pretty good.

RunnerDude said...

Hey WYOTRI! That's a really good idea! Might even be good to combine the two. Really get those pressure points and then do the ice roll. Man that ice roll actually sounds good to do just after a regular long run during the summer when my feet get really hot! Thanks!

Missy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog...you cover the serious tips and I'll cover the hilarity of it all!:)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Missy!Thanks for stopping by! Loved reading your blog. Definitely room for both and I definitely need some halarity in my life! Happy Running!

Amanda said...

Hi there, I just found your blog (I'm mandypantsruns on Twitter) and wanted to say thanks for the great post. I have recently started having some pain that I'm assuming is PF, although it's more where the tendon reaches the ball of my foot instead of back by my heel. I think I'll check out the Wheel.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Amanda! Most runners complain of the pain in the heel, but I, like you, also had it near the ball of the foot. I'd definitely recommend trying the wheel or one of the other methods other commentors have suggested. You may also want to have a sports doc check you out to see if it's an issue wiht your gate or the type of shoe you're wearing. If you can head if off before you have full-blown PF, that would be great. Happy Running!!

Denise said...

Thankfully I haven't had to deal with that. Fingers crossed that I never do!

jim boyle said...

Its been a long year of trying everything, what is finally
working is a tennis ball 3 times a day slight extra pressure on trigger points (scar tissue.) also 2 baths a day and stretching my whole body connective tissue(myofascial release). Absulate immediate relief
from any slight pain i had left. its been weeks since i really felt any pain just trying to get rid of scar tissue now

Xavierism said...

Bon tardi! Great info - thanks for sharing. I'm dealing with a heel spur on my left foot so this will come in handy. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Cheers!