Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
For four excruciating months last summer I battled with plantar fasciitis. It began with a tiny twinge in my foot after a run, which was such a small niggle that I didn’t think much of it. That quickly turned—in a matter of days—into an out of control monster that refused to budge. I had heard other runners talk about it in a hushed deadly tone, but I had never dealt with plantar fasciitis before.
A month post-Boston Marathon, I was getting back into good racing shape and was excited to run an early fall marathon. Let’s just say that didn’t happen, nor did plan B, which was a very late fall marathon. It took time, patience and a lot of rest to overcome this injury. I remember trolling the internet like a crazed person, desperate not to succumb to injury, looking for the magic formula to make it all go away.
I’m here today to tell you there of course isn’t a magic formula, but there are a lot of things you can do to heal and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Go to a sports podiatrist, as soon as possible.
Don’t try and guess your way through this, just go get it checked out. I love my podiatrist because he is also an athlete and he gets it. He was very focused on getting me up and running again as soon as possible.
Research cortisone shots; they may be recommended.
Now, hear me out before you get your panties in a knot. Cortisone shots are considered to be a little dicey—some doctors are in favor and some say nay. Talk to your doctor, weigh the options and do what is right for your situation. That being said, I got the cortisone shot and it helped a little bit, but I still wasn’t healed for a few months.
Tape up your foot.
Have your doctor demonstrate the correct way to tape or watch an instructional video.
If your doctor tells you to stay off it, follow their instructions.
As in, stop running for a bit and try cross-training instead. NOTE: Some types of exercise may not be good for your foot, so discuss with your doctor. Swimming is awesome and I kept up my fitness with daily swimming.
Go to physical therapy as soon as possible.
The exercises I learned in PT were invaluable and I still do them all the time. They include:
- In a sitting position, take your foot and pull your toes back. Hold for 30 seconds and then do it again.
- Invest in a calf stretcher and stretch your calves; 30 seconds stretch on each leg x 2
- Calf raises. You can do this anywhere! Simply raise up on your toes and go back down for 10 reps x 2.
- Place a towel on the floor and use your toes to crunch the towel.
Talk to your doctor about the possibility of orthotics.
I was fitted for a custom pair and they made a world of difference. Every runner is different, so find out what will work for you.
Investigate your running shoes.
For example, I realized that I need to wear a 12 mm heel-to-toe drop running shoe. The extra cushion is what my body demands and if I try and change it, I get into trouble. Meet with a running shoe specialist to find the correct running shoe for your body.
Try dry needling with a licensed acupuncturist.
This method was recommended to me and with my doctor’s okay, I met with a great acupuncturist. The needles are not a super fun time, but it’s not that bad, either. The method relaxes the tendons and helps with healing. A big reason why plantar fasciitis takes a long time to heal is because it’s hard for tendons (vs. muscles) to heal.
Wear the Strassburg Sock at night (every night).
It does make a difference.
There are a few good products on the market to choose from. A frozen device where you are safely rolling your foot is an excellent option.
Consider taking foods out of your diet that cause inflammation.
An acupuncturist or nutritionist can help you make good, informed choices.
DO NOT walk around barefoot.
There are a few good shoes on the market that provide cushion and support for your feet.
Invest in a regular massage and have the therapist focus on your legs and calves.
Most of the time runners get plantar fasciitis from tight calves. Stretches, specific exercises and massage will go a long way in your healing.
At the end of the day, you’ll probably have to rest. It’s a bummer, but give your body time to heal and you’ll come back stronger than ever.