Is heel pain stopping you from training?
Jason Schultz explains the signs, symptoms, and treatment of plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
Jason Schultz explains the signs, symptoms, and treatment of Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain) Many things can slow down your time, but heel pain can bring it to a stop. The most common form of heel pain in track & field athletes is known as Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced PLAN-tar fashee-EYE-tiss). It occurs when the long, flat ligament on the bottom of the foot (Plantar Fascia) stretches irregularly and develops small tears that cause the ligament to become inflamed. The pain is described as being dull aching or sharp and can be reproduced by flexing the toes upwards (dorsiflexion) and tensing the fascia.
Although the fascia is invested with countless sturdy 'cables' of connective tissue called collagen fibres, it is certainly not immune to injury. About 5 to 10% of all athletic injuries are inflammations of the fascia. This incidence rate in the United States would produce about a million cases of plantar fasciitis per year, just among runners and joggers. Track and field, tennis players, volleyball players, step aerobics participants, and dancers are also prone to plantar problems, as are non-athletic people who spend a lot of time on their feet or suddenly become active after a long period of lethargy. A recent study found that over 50% of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis are on their feet nearly all day. Plantar Fasciitis usually develops gradually. Heel pain may only occur when taking the first steps after getting out of bed or when taking the first steps after sitting for a long period. If the plantar fascia ligament is not rested, the inflammation and heel pain will get worse. Other conditions or aggravating factors, such as the repetitive stress of walking, standing, running, or jumping, will contribute to inflammation and pain. In some cases, the inflamed ligament may not heal because many people who have plantar fasciitis do not entirely stop the aggravating activity.
In athletes, several factors are associated with the development of plantar fasciitis. These factors can lead the athlete to change his or her gait (the way the feet strike the ground), which can cause symptoms and injury. Risk factors for athletes include:
The traditional remedies for plantar fasciitis include stretching the calf, massaging, decreasing one's training, losing weight, purchasing fitting shoes (with a raised heel and arch support), icing the sore heel, and taking ibuprofen.
Another treatment option, also known as one of the easiest, is using heel seats in your shoes. Heel seats pick up and re-stretch the plantar fascia, redistribute the heel's natural fat pad, provide structural reinforcement to the foot, and apply acupressure to relieve the pain while your feet heal.
In any case, when you feel pain, your body is trying to warn you that something is wrong. See a doctor or specialist at the first sign of discomfort. Early treatment of problems is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
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