How to Avoid & Manage Plantar Heel Pain (AKA Plantar Fasciitis) in Runners

As a running specialist physical therapist at Runners’ Edge Alaska, I have seen a significant increase in the number of runners experiencing plantar heel pain, particularly during the springtime. Plantar heel pain, also known as plantar fasciitis, is a common condition that can significantly impact a runner’s training and performance. Wondering how to avoid and manage plantar heel pain? Stick around to learn: 

  • The risks of plantar heel pain in Runners
  • Offer tips for avoiding and managing this condition
  • Provide exercises to help prevent it
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The Risks of Plantar Heel Pain in Runners:

Plantar heel pain is a condition that affects the thick band of tissue, known as the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. 

This condition is characterized by pain and stiffness in the heel and can significantly impact a runner’s training and performance. 

The risks of developing plantar heel pain are particularly high in runners in Alaska during the springtime, due to a combination of factors, including:

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Image Source: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs/
  1. Increased Training: As the weather warms up in Alaska, runners are more likely to increase their training volume, leading to a higher risk of overuse injuries like plantar heel pain.

  2. Uneven Terrain: Alaska’s rugged terrain, particularly in the spring when snow and ice may still be present, can increase the risk of plantar heel pain by causing the foot to twist or turn unnaturally, leading to strain on the plantar fascia.

  3. Inadequate Footwear: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or cushioning can also contribute to the development of plantar heel pain.

3 Tips for Avoiding and Managing Plantar Heel Pain:

Fortunately, there are several tips that runners in Alaska can follow to help avoid and manage plantar heel pain. These include:

  1. Gradual Increases in Training: Rather than suddenly increasing training volume, it is important to gradually increase mileage and intensity to avoid overuse injuries like plantar heel pain.

  2. Proper Footwear: Wearing shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning can help prevent plantar heel pain. It is also important to replace running shoes regularly, as they lose their cushioning over time.

  3. Strengthening Exercises: The best way to avoid plantar fascia pain is to keep your feet and calves strong! 

The Best Exercises to Help Avoid Plantar Heel Pain

In addition to stretching and strengthening exercises, there are specific exercises that runners in Alaska can do to help prevent plantar heel pain. These include:

  1. Towel Scrunches: Place a small towel on the ground and use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you. This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in the feet and can help prevent plantar heel pain.
  2. Calf Raises: Stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off and rise up onto your toes. Lower back down and repeat. This exercise strengthens the calves, which can help prevent plantar heel pain.
  3. Toe Yoga: Sit with your feet flat on the ground and raise your toes up towards the ceiling. Lower back down and repeat. This exercise helps to stretch the plantar fascia and prevent plantar heel pain.
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Toe Yoga on a Naboso Standing Mat

The Benefits of Naboso Products for Optimal Foot Health:

In addition to proper footwear and exercise, using Naboso products can also be beneficial for optimal foot health. Naboso products are designed to enhance the connection between the feet and the ground, providing better sensory input to the brain and improving foot strength and balance. 

The Naboso insoles and mats are particularly helpful for runners, as they can improve foot proprioception and stability, leading to a reduced risk of plantar heel pain. In addition, the Nuroball by Naboso is one of our personal favorites! It feels amazing after a long run or a long day on your feet! 

We sell many Naboso items here at the clinic. Click the link below to view what we have and their benefits! 

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If you’ve struggled with plantar heel pain in the past, you know how frustrating the recovery can be. We all know summer in Alaska is short and there is no time to spend mending an injury! If you are struggling with plantar heel pain, or have had the injury in the past and want to prevent it from coming back, give our clinic a call! Better yet, click the link below to schedule a FREE discovery session with me. I am more than happy to answer your questions! 

Written by: 
Trevor Staples, PT, DPT, CSCS

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