Is the bottom of your foot aching during or immediately after your workout? If so, there’s a good chance that a larger issue may be at hand.
Running foot pain, or plantar fasciitis, is an injury that affects over 10% of all female runners. Without proper treatment, it can become a long-term problem that can impair your future health and ability to exercise- something we both want to avoid, right?
First off, it is important to understand what causes plantar fasciitis, and how to know when you are experiencing this injury. By understanding these facts, you will be able to property treat this nagging pain, while performing exercises to prevent it from returning.
What Are the Causes & Symptoms of My Running Foot Pain?
Most women don’t realize that during their everyday run, they put a significant amount of stress on their feet. This repeated pounding causes the plantar fascia (located on the bottom of your foot) to stretch, which can oftentimes result in small muscle tears.
This condition is common in female runners who are flat footed and lack significant arch in their foot. Additionally, natural overpronation (explained here) puts additional stress on the arch of the foot, as well as the supporting muscles.
When there is excessive stress on the plantar fascia the muscles can become inflamed, which causes soreness in the foot tissue. Many women explain this experience as a “bruise-like” tenderness on the bottom of the foot and in the heel.
As the muscle fibers tear, scar tissue forms making the plantar fascia less flexible. This combination of events will leave you feeling constant pain and discomfort, as long as the condition goes untreated.
How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
Fortunately for all athletes, plantar fasciitis is relatively easy to treat, but can quickly worsen if appropriate measures are not taken. The first step is to rest the muscles, putting all of your workout programs on hold, and providing your feet the time they need to heal.
If you are running longer distances or training for half or full marathon, then it is recommended that to cut back your miles. You may try to implement walking into your training program, ensuring that you don’t overly ”push it” when feeling sore. This may be difficult when training for a race, but it is necessary. In the long term, you will benefit from allowing the muscles to repair, instead of potentially causing more serious or even permanent damage. Keep in mind your long-term health.
To decrease the discomfort, anti-inflammatory medication can be used as prescribed. Additionally, for a more natural remedy, apply a bag of ice to the bottom of your foot after your workout for 15 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and then repeat a second time.
Warming up your calf and shin muscles prior to your run can also help. Start slow on your run, especially if it is early in the morning and your muscles are cold, as the muscles need time to get warm up and loosen. This small little step will minimize the tearing of the plantar fascia, as the muscles will be more flexible.
If you are a woman with flat feet, consider investing in a new pair of shoes designed for moderate to severe overpronating runners from your favorite brand. Certain shoe models are created to add medial support during your stride, which can dramatically help treat overpronation and help support your foot.
If you’re looking for another solution then customized orthotics oftentimes help. They are specifically designed to cushion the landing of the foot, and can ease pain in the ball of the foot or the heel caused by bone spurs.
If the discomfort continues, please see a podiatrist to evaluate further options.
How To Further Prevent Your Running Foot Pain
In order to stop your plantar fasciitis from becoming a continuous problem, many female athletes how found the following activities and exercises to be helpful…
- After your complete a run or walk, the plantar fascia muscles are likely inflamed. Take a frozen can of juice and set it on the carpet. For 10 minutes, roll the can under your foot, extending from your heel to your toes. This will stretch the muscles as they cool, reducing soreness and inflammation.
- To stretch the muscles, take a towel and wrap it around the ball of your foot while you legs are extended. Very gently pull the towel towards your body until a firm, relaxed stretch is reached. Hold this for 20 seconds, rest for 20 seconds, and then repeat 3 more times.
If your pain is too great and is keeping you from jogging, take the opportunity to try out another alternative cross training exercise.
You may consider trying a different outdoor activity (like swimming) is great for the foot muscles and is super low impact. You will experience a great cardiovascular exercise while giving your feet a needed rest.
Incorporating some of these techniques into your workout routine will help treat your foot pain, while also preventing it from reoccurring.
If you need to treat a different type of athletic injury, take a look at how to prevent the following types of aches and pains…