For this month’s Run It Roundup, five other running bloggers and I are sharing with you how we deal with particular running injuries. I’ve been treating plantar fasciitis for over a month now, with good results. But maybe you don’t deal with PF – maybe you have lazy glutes, piriformis syndrome, or runner’s knee. This month, we’ve got you covered on how to prevent and treat common running injuries. If you aren’t dealing with plantar fasciitis, scroll down to the bottom to see the other injury treatments and preventions!
“The good news is, your bones are healthy.” YAY! I thought, relieved that the tight and sensitive spot in my foot wasn’t a bone bruise or stress reaction. “What you have is mild plantar fasciitis.” “Oh f***.” I thought.
Thankfully, I had a mild case of plantar fasciitis, due to tight calves and the collapsing of my right arch after a sprain and dislocation in that same foot the previous year. Even though the tightness in my heel had lingered on and off for months, I never had to stop running due to it. My podiatrist allowed me to continue running and prescribed me some simple yet effective at-home remedies to alleviate my symptoms and prevent my plantar fasciitis from becoming worse.
About one month out from the diagnosis and my foot still has moments where it feels tight – but overall, following my recovery protocol has made a significant difference. I don’t feel tightness in my foot throughout the day like I was.
Let me iterate the most important point of this post: Plantar fasciitis is different for every single runner. For some runners, the pain is so debilitating that even walking hurts, yet other runners can train as normal through it. What worked for me in treating PF may not work for you.
Take One Rest Day per Week
I will never be one of those runners who runs 7 days per week, especially now that I have been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. Rest and recovery are just as important to being a healthy and strong runner as running and nutrition. My muscles need to recover, especially from the impact and stress of running. If I do anything on my rest day, it’s a long walk with the dogs and Pilates, which is low-impact and low-intensity (and helps prevent injury!).
Stretch, Release, and Mobilize
There are a few stretches that have made a significant difference in the tightness in my heel: downward dog and a toe stretch. For downward dog, I will hold the pose statically for five breaths and then pedal my feet up and down ten times each. I do the toe stretch before I get out of bed each morning. I simply place my hands on the base of my toes (thumbs on top of foot) and gently pull my toes towards me and then release back, repeating for 1-2 sets of 8-10 stretches (this article from Runner’s World shoes how).
I also diligently foam roll my calves and the connecting muscles, since tight calves are the root cause. The bdy is a connective chain – tightness in one area can cause pain in another area. Rolling the calves will prevent tightness from occurring that will tighten the Achilles tendon and pull on the plantar fascia – I usually spend just about a minute on my calves, or until they loosen up, before moving on to roll out my quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Rolling the bottom of the foot releases scar tissue, which is the cause of tightness and pain. Since releasing scar tissue takes longer than basic foam rolling, 3-5 minutes is optimal.
Ice After Every Workout
My podiatrist instructed me to ice my heel after every single workout – and this has made a huge difference. It’s not exactly comfortable to put my foot on an ice pack for 20 minutes (especially after a run in the cold rain), but the ice reduces inflammation and helps heal the tissue. When my heel is feeling extra sensitive or tight, I ice twice per day.
My running shoes weren’t what was causing the problem – it was the shoes I was (or wasn’t) wearing for the other 23 hours per day. Since I work from home, I spent a majority of my time barefoot or in slippers with no arch support. On weekends, I’d wear flats, boots, or Sperry’s – none of which supported my arch sufficiently. I started wearing Birkenstocks around my apartment and instead of my normal casual shoes and noticed a quick difference in how my heel felt.
- Tape: You can use kinesiology tape at home or have your podiatrist apply low dye to offload the stress from your arch temporarily.
- Arch Strengthening Exercises: I scrunch a towel with my toe for 2-3 sets of 30 repetitions once to twice per day to build up arch strength.
- Orthotics: If you experience discomfort while running, you may find that a pair of orthotics helps. You can choose custom-made orthotics, which can be pricey even with insurance, or store-bought brands such as Superfeet.
- Glute Activation: Spend time strengthening your glutes and activating them before each run so that you don’t overuse your calves or compensate with poor form.
I am not a physical therapist or podiatrist, so please consult your doctor first if you are dealing with an injury.
Allie shares her tips for how she stays injury-free while training hard:
Nellie shares workouts to prevent common running injuries:
Carly shares prevention, treatment, and recovery tips for dealing with dreaded runner’s knee:
Sarah guides you through preventing two injuries that are (literally) a pain in the butt to deal with:
Angela’s glute strengthening workout will prevent and treat a whole host of injuries caused by weak and misfiring glutes:
You likely will notice some common themes throughout each post: fixing muscular imbalances, balancing training with recovery, and strength training are all essential steps to preventing and treating common running injuries.
What injuries or tight/achy spots do you deal with?
How do you prevent injuries?