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Overcoming Plantar Fasciitis for Marathoners

Running 26.2 miles on its own is a challenge only seriously dedicated runners can claim as victory, but if you find yourself suffering from foot cramps, you may require plantar fasciitis relief in order to continue logging that mileage.

It’s not a secret that you need to take time for athletic recovery during your marathon training in order to avoid serious injuries that could keep you off your feet, so if you start to feel pain or discomfort, it’s important to find out what’s going on rather than trying to power through it.

What is plantar fasciitis?

One of the most common reasons runners experience heel pain is because of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis happens when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue along the bottom of your foot connecting your toes to your heel bone, becomes inflamed. The swelling causes a stabbing pain when you step. It might be particularly noticeable in the morning when you wake up, and will most likely decrease throughout the day, but it can return if you are immobile for a period of time.

Some of the causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • A quick change in mileage for runners
  • Wearing the wrong shoes for running or wearing worn-out footwear
  • Issues with foot structure including flat feet, high arches or a tight Achilles tendons
  • Overpronation, which happens when you unevenly distribute your weight to the centers of your feet with each step
  • Overtraining, which can put too much stress on the plantar fascia
  • Not properly stretching your calf muscles, especially after a long run

Tips for overcoming plantar fasciitis

Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis can be a recurring issue for runners, especially marathoners who have serious training schedules and are constantly pounding the pavement. The good news is that there are some quick and easy home remedies to treat this issue and keep you running.

Stretch your plantar fascia and calves:

Since this band of tissues can tighten up easily, it’s important to stretch it out and loosen it up. Sit in a chair with your affected foot across your opposite knee. Using the hand on your affected side, thread your fingers through your toes and pull your toes toward your shin until you feel a stretch across the arch of your foot. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides if both feet are affected. To stretch your calf muscles, stand on a step. The heel of your affected foot should hang off the step, and you should drop your heel toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold this for about 20 to 30 seconds as well. You should stretch your plantar fascia and calves after any sort of exercise including a run and weight lifting (especially if you do lower body exercises). It might also feel good to stretch these areas after your feet muscles warm up in the morning to alleviate the pain from not moving all night.

Give yourself a plantar fascia massage:

Using a portable massager like the Moji Foot Massager, place your affected foot on top of the massager.  If you’re looking for an intense massage, use the larger spheres, but if you want less pressure, opt for the smaller spheres. Roll your foot back and forth across your arch, and you can press down and apply extra pressure on particularly tender spots in order to alleviate knots that may have formed. When your plantar fasciitis is flared up, you want to give yourself a foot massage once or twice a day. First, have a 20-minute session in the morning after your feet muscles have warmed up, and then have another 20-minute massage at night before bed to save your feet from cramping up while you sleep.