In this 3 part series, Dr. Ivy Roe, one of our talented Performance Physical Therapists and our resident running guru, will break down several issues that plague runners in their quest for their next PR.
Plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints…any of these sound familiar? It is estimated up to 82% of runners will get injured at some point during their training. 
This means that if you intend to run at almost any intensity, then you will run right into pain that will slow you down; then what do you do? Do you try to run through it? Take time off and rest. See a doctor? Ask your friends what they’ve done when they’ve been injured?
In this three-part post, I will describe some common running injuries, examples of self-treatment, and what to do if you just can’t get back to your full health and running routine.

Injury #1: Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is an important structural component on the bottom of the foot that helps with the stability of the foot and ankle. Typically, a person will start to have pain in their heel especially with the first step out of bed in the morning as well as during prolonged standing, walking and running. If the plantar fascia is inflamed/irritated it interferes with normal mechanics of the foot and ankle, which then causes dysfunction up the entire leg, even causing issues up into the spine. So not only will a person have pain in their foot, but they may then develop compensation patterns leading to knee, hip or spinal pain…all because of your foot!! No need to throw in the towel, there are a few self-treatments that are effective in relieving a person’s foot/heel pain and allowing them to get back to their normal activities, especially running.

Self-treatment of plantar fasciitis is not difficult. First is to make sure the plantar fascia is moving correctly and that it’s not getting “stuck” anywhere in the foot. Cross your affected leg on top of the other, then press firmly into the sole of your foot looking for any tender or tight spots. When you find a spot, keep your finger firmly pressed into it and using your other hand, gently bend your big toe upward toward your shin. This can help break up any scar tissue and myofascial restrictions that are not allowing the plantar fascia to function properly. Do this at least once a day followed by stretching your calf muscles. Also, ice the sole of your foot with either a bag of ice or freezing a Coke bottle and roll your foot over it for 10-20 minutes daily, especially after a lot of impact activity like running.

At our clinic, we have developed a Runner’s Screening Exam which hones in on the areas of the body that are most important for efficient running form and tests specific areas needed for optimal running performance. For example, a runner comes in with suspected plantar fasciitis and we put them through the Runner’s Screening Exam. A dysfunction we may find is weak hip stabilizer muscles such as the gluteus medius, which will then cause increased stress on the plantar fascia from improper mechanics. We then design a comprehensive and individualized rehabilitation plan with a home exercise program to address the dysfunction/s we find and get you back to running. Not only do we correct the dysfunction/s which caused the plantar fasciitis in the first place, but we arm you with tools to prevent it from happening again.