Friday, May 09, 2008

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis or "Runner's Heels"

In 2007, due to bonehead use of old shoes in a race, I developed plantar fasciitis or "Runner's Heels". Plantar's is most often caused by tight calves straining their final muscle tendon connections just ahead of the heel in the instep area.  Running lots of hills can bring plantars on. The fiberous tissue there can get damaged and easily inflamed. They are most painful first thing in the morning.

What can you do?
  1. Stretch calves and achilles gently
  2. I also use "The Stick", a set of plastic roller on a stick to massage the calves
  3. Get a good pair of insoles for your running shoes, throw out the junk that comes in them especially if you have high arches as I do. Properly supporting the instep is one of the keys to relieving plantars.  I have used the heat moldable Sole Dean Karzanes model, and while a bit heavy in running shoes,  are also great in ski boots and day to day shoes where they also belong. Lately, after finding them in my Atomic nordic boots, no junk there,  I have been using Sidas insoles. They are not heat moldable but lighter and more flexible.  I prefer them to the Soles but apart from Wasatch Running Center in Salt Lake where I found them in the store I have not been able to find them online in the US. An alternative which looks similar is the ShockDoctor Ultra 2 which is available online. I have not tried these.
  4. Don't walk barefoot until your plantars is better
  5. Use a "splint" on your feet when you sleep and also when you walk around. I have tried the more elaborate and over a period of time painful Strassburg "sock" but found myself waking up in discomfort. You also can really only wear the sock or other splints when you are sitting or sleeping.
  6. I found that the much simpler Pro-Tec Athletics Arch Support which I get at REI can be worn all the time. I do not wear them running as they take up a bit to much room in tighter fitting running shoes.
  7. While running I also sometimes wear the compression socks mentioned earlier in my blog as they increase blood flow to the lower legs. These socks do reduce calf soreness and help recovery.
  8. Finally, on a trail run last year when my heels were at their worst I ran into a fellow runner complete with Tour du Mont Blanc 100 mile race T-shirt. He swore by Capsasin cream on the heel and instep to increase circulation to that fiberous material. It helps but be sure to completely wash your hands after applying as the cayenne pepper  can really sting the eyes.

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