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Have Heel Pain From Running?

It Could Be Plantar Fasciitis

What do third baseman Evan Longoria, tight end Antonio Gates and NBA players Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah have in common? Giving their all for their sports has temporarily sidelined them with Plantar Fasciitis – a condition which causes serious heel pain. While many of us would love to emulate the achievements of pro athletes, no one wants to experience the debility of a sports injury, but even moderate exercise can put you at risk for ailments. Plantar Fasciitis is cited by podiatrists as the number one cause of heel pain today. This article will acquaint you with the link between physical activity and heel pain, and will teach you what to do if you begin to develop telltale symptoms.

How Running Can Lead To Plantar Fasciitis

A survey conducted by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association indicates that nearly 20 million Americans are out running for exercise approximately 100 days per year. Running shoes sales represent approximately $2.5 billion in annual revenue (1). Running has become one of America’s favorite ways to get fit and stay fit. That’s a great thing, but these numbers don’t speak to the hidden story of how many injuries and health problems this form of exercise can lead to.

The main problem with a vigorous running regimen is the stress feet endure from repeat impact with a hard surface. City dwellers may have to exercise on hard pavement, but even those joggers with access to a track can develop chronic health problems resulting from impact. Treadmill runners are also at risk, simply from repetitive strain being placed on the components of the foot.

The major ligament in the human foot is the plantar fascia – a stretchy band of tissue that spans the arch of the foot from heel to ball. This elastic ligament is strong enough to support the arch of the foot and bear your weight, and it is designed to flex within a narrow range of motion as you walk or run. The repetitive stress of running can place undue strain on the ligament, resulting in the small tissue tears and inflammation that characterize Plantar Fasciitis. The band of tissue can then begin to suffer from too great a range of motion, which in turn affects the motion of the heel bone, resulting in pain typically centered at the bottom or sides of the heel. In this environment of ligament looseness and inflammation, bony protrusions of calcium – called heel spurs – can form on the heel bone, increasing painful sensations as they prod soft, fatty tissues when you walk or run.

A hallmark symptom of Plantar Fasciitis is morning heel pain. It is believed that pain is often greatest upon arising because the plantar fascia ligament has grown cold and stiff during the night. Similarly, runners and other athletes may notice that their pain is worst at the beginning of an exercise period and gradually lessens as the activity continues. This is because the plantar fascia has had a chance to warm up, decreasing discomfort.

The heel pain resulting from this common condition can range from moderate to debilitating. Famous athletes have been quoted as saying that they almost couldn’t get out of bed in the morning due to the severity of their pain. Understandably, a condition like Plantar Fasciitis can force a star athlete off the field or court, and hobbyist runners, tennis players or basketball players also experience genuine frustration when heel pain starts cutting into their personal exercise goals.

One trait that tends to unite dedicated athletes, whether professional or amateur, is a willingness to endure initial discomfort in order to achieve eventual goals. The first few times anyone runs after a period of inactivity are almost guaranteed to lead to some temporary aches and pains. That’s normal. But, every athlete should commit to paying attention to symptoms of pain and taking them seriously. If you don’t treat your body right, it can’t support you in your athletic goals. If morning heel pain or heel pain experienced during any phase of exercise doesn’t quickly resolve itself, don’t grin and bear it!

Taking The Right Steps To Recover From Plantar Fasciitis

If you’ve developed heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis or heel spurs from running, your best chance for a full recovery lies in four simple but vital steps:

  1. Rest – Until you have fully recovered, you must cut down on your running program. The amount a person can safely run if they’ve been diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis must be determined on an individual basis. You should reduce the frequency or mileage of your runs down to a level at which you are no longer experiencing heel pain. In addition to this, to aid your recovery, commit to putting your feet up for a complete rest twice a day for 20 minutes.
  2. While resting your feet, apply an ice pack. This reduces inflammation and pain, but do not ice your feet for more than 20 minutes at a time, as this can actually hamper recovery and cause tissue damage.
  3. Stretch – Heel pain stretches may not be as fun as running, but they can work wonders in terms of helping the damaged plantar fascia ligament to recover. Check out our awesome free heel stretching videos and commit to doing them every day.
  4. Support – With a diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis or heel spurs, every step you take must be adequately supported with an orthotic insert that has been designed to treat your condition. HTP Heel Seats are endorsed by top NBA athletes and the American Podiatric Medical Association for the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis. Unlike over-the-counter inserts, HTP Heel Seats provide Fascia-Bar and acupressure treatments that actually support and stimulate your body’s natural ability to heal itself. Nine out of ten Heel That Pain customers report success with our orthotics, which have enabled them to avoid medications, injections and costly surgeries.

In most cases, athletes like you can recover from Plantar Fasciitis with the conservative treatments described above. You can get back to running if you can make the commitment to give your feet the time they need to heal.

Have questions about running and heel pain? Phone our patient helpline at 877-215-3200.


1. Running More Popular Than Ever In US – New York Daily News, July 2012
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