A Pain in the Heel: Treating Plantar Fasciitis

| Well Being

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'Tis the season of marathons, and with all that pressure to bring your best game, the last thing you need is an injury! Plantar fasciitis affects an estimated 10 percent of people, and can be particularly debilitating and painful during those long runs. It is a common runner's ailment, and is considered to be one of the most popular overuse injuries of the foot. The last thing you need during those last few marathon-training sessions is severe pain in your heel, so if you think you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis, it is time to give your physician a call!

What is it? Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the heel becomes inflamed and painful. The plantar fascia is a flat ligament that serves as a connector between your heel bone and your toes. Its primary purpose is to offer arch support to your feet. When it is strained, the ligament becomes weak, swollen and inflamed, which causes the telltale pain in the heel when you're exercising. If it goes untreated, tiny tears can appear in the ligament and your discomfort and swelling could increase exponentially.

>> Read more: Shin Splints: How to Treat and Avoid Them

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What causes it? Overuse is the primary cause of plantar fasciitis, so regulating your workouts and being aware of how your body is feeling is absolutely essential. You can also keep an eye out for the following causes: (via WebMD)

These habits tend to exacerbate the severity of your pain and swelling, so try to avoid them as much as possible!

How do you treat it? Luckily, plantar fasciitis is not a permanent condition, and there are a variety of things you can try to treat the pain.  Here are some of your options:

  • Stretch it out. One of the best ways to relieve the pain and swelling is to perform a couple of daily stretches to strengthen your lower leg muscles and stabilize your walk. You can check out our favorite leg stretches here.
  • Ice it down. Applying ice three to four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes will help reduce the swelling and inflammation.
  • Stay off your feet. Plantar fasciitis is considered an injury, so give your body time to heal. Try to minimize your exercise as much as possible while the pain and swelling are still severe.
  • Use arch support. When you're ready to resume your workouts, make sure that your shoes have good arch support. There are a ton of inserts out there, so make sure you take the time to do your research!
  • Take an anti-inflammatory. Non-steroidal meds like ibuprofen or naproxen can go a long way in relieving the pain and swelling. Reducing inflammation is key to recovery!
  • Get a corticosteroid injection. If these home treatments are just not working for you, you can consult your doctor about getting a corticosteroid injection in your heel. Try to exhaust all the other options first, though!

women running in marathon

>> Read more: Injury-Friendly Exercises

Remember that ignoring the pain will not make it go away. If you try to run through the pain, you could ned up with chronic heel pain. Take care of your body, and make sure that you consult with your physician if you have any questions! For more information, check out our sources: American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle SocietyWebMD, Healthline.