Running season is plantar fasciitis season. This is a top 3 ailment among runners and active individuals who spend a lot of time on their feet. The common denominator is increased stress loading on the feet which is typically classified as an overuse injury. With the increase in running popularity and the desire for more physical fitness we are finding that plantar fasciitis has been rampant. In fact, one third of the population will have plantar fasciitis in their lifetime. There are many things that one can do to assist in relieving this condition and preventing its onset. As a long time distance runner I have found that many individuals become injured due to training errors and poor choice of equipment. One of the most common denominators in this injury is increasing activities dramatically over a short period of time instead of a gradual break-in strengthening phase. For example, one of my old college running teammates decided to train for the Masters Division race circuit. In doing so he chose to increase his mileage from approximately 50 miles per week to 70 miles per week in one week. After having spent many years running through high school, college and life he developed plantar fasciitis for the first time in his running career. This sudden increase in mileage was the inciting event. We see plantar fasciitis increase dramatically in springtime. Many of us here in Utah have been “pent-up” during the winter months and then go out to lose the extra 5 pounds of “body fur” we gained over the winter months due to our inactivity. We also experience a rapid increase in activity working in the yard, hiking, biking, golfing etc. as we make the transition from winter to spring and summer. In my office we call springtime “plantar fasciitis season” which extends well into the summer months.
Things to decrease the likelihood of developing plantar fascilitis:
- Gradually increase activity levels and stay fit generally in the off-season.
- Use supportive, well structured shoes.
- Stretch the Achilles tendon area through a consistent and gradual stretching exercise program.
- Consider the use of over-the-counter supports such as Powerstep™ and or Superfeet™ inserts which may be obtained at your local running store to be used as a replacement insert for the sock liner of your athletic shoes.
- Ice after activity.
- Exercise the intrinsic musculature of the feet bilaterally performing gripping exercises with your toes such as picking up marbles or bunching up a towel with the toes.
- Consider seeking medical attention if these modalities do not render improvement over a period of 4-6 weeks. Medical treatments may include such things as corticosteroid injections, PRP injections, night splints, custom orthotics, and referral to physical therapy. Surgery is indicated in very few patients. Recent studies show that approximately 5% of patients with plantar fasciitis will faill conservative care and may benefit from an operative procedure. You may want to obtain a second opinion if your Dr. is recommending surgical intervention prior to exhausting alll of the conservative options of care.
Tip: Dr Clark enjoys seeing patients from all walks of life. He particularly enjoy his connection with the running community due to his competitive running background. He has been involved with both BYU and Weber State athletic departments over the years assisting them with athletic injuries of the foot and ankle. Dr. Clark recommends that runners purchase shoes from a dedicated running shoe store. He has worked closely with the staff and ownership of the local running stores here in the greater Salt Lake City area and has fostered a lasting relationship with them as they are a key part of the “team” as we all strive to stay healthy and fit.