Whether you’re a new runner on a journey of being fit or an experienced one—a halt in your running routine due to unnecessary heel pain can be bothersome. Experienced runners usually go through bouts of plantar fasciitis, in which case lazing out for a few days and focusing on stretching and resting is a good idea.
If you have non-supportive or worn-out shoes, they could contribute a massive deal to developing plantar fasciitis or making it worse. Thereby, we suggest you also reconsider your footwear choice, and invest in more cushioning, supportive shoes, and pair them with orthotic inserts. When your feet begin to bounce back, you can get back to your running routine, starting with slow jogs and gradually work up to your regular workout.
However, if you do not wish to lay off till your feet get absolutely better, there are ways to incorporate a running routine with mild to moderate plantar fasciitis. There are definitely some essential rules you have to bind by, but it is possible. We are here to help you with tips, advice, and information on how to run with plantar fasciitis. But first, let’s get some basics out of the way. Shall we?
What Are Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms?
Starting, what is plantar fasciitis, and how do you recognize the symptoms? Usually, this foot condition comes with a feeling of a deep ache or sharp stab in the arch or heel of the foot. However, one of the more well-known signs of plantar fasciitis is the hobble in the morning.
Individuals who have developed plantar fasciitis will usually experience debilitating pain in their feet in the morning. This is due to the fact that our toes usually curl up during sleep, which shortens or minimizes the fascia ligament. During the first few morning steps, the fascia stretches, causing unbearable pain.
This pain is not necessarily restricted to the morning but can recur even during the day. If you lay down or sit for long durations, the same effect is bound to repeat. However, this pain tends to fade away if you adequately warm up the area. But alas! The third symptom of plantar fasciitis pain is the one you experience when you take off while running.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis in Runners?
Overtraining, not focusing enough on warm-up and cool-downs, or running on concrete are some leading causes of plantar fasciitis in runners. Lack of stretching can lead to tight calf muscles, which become the reason for your fascia ligament to pull and cause pain. Biomechanical issues like high arches with flat feet can also contribute to developing this foot condition.
When you increase your training mileage, wear worn-out running shoes, or often run on hard surfaces—plantar fasciitis can become all too common. We have also noticed that wearing high heels for an entire day and then switching right into running shoes (which are flat) can also put a lot of undue pressure on the feet.
Running With Plantar Fasciitis: Yay or Nay?
If you are a runner who has recently developed plantar fasciitis, the biggest dilemma in your mind must be—to run or not to run? In mild to moderate cases, continuing to run even with plantar fasciitis is still possible. However, it is always helpful to seek advice from a physical therapist or podiatrist before you jump back into your routine.
One thing to keep in mind is that rehabilitation for your feet is essential. You cannot and should not carry on with your same old running/exercise routine, which can lead you to worsen your condition rather than helping it. When you have a mild case of plantar fasciitis, you will probably experience some pain during the beginning of your exercise, however; you can expect this pain to fade away as you continue running.
This means that the muscular tightness in your ligament is the primary reason for the discomfort, which makes it okay to run as long as you relieve the calf and ankle tightened. However, please note that this is not the time to increase the intensity of your exercise or runs. We also suggest that in the case where your foot pain is persistent throughout the run, you must stop running altogether (You can get yourself the best foot massager for plantar fasciitis).
In the circumstance where you keep pushing yourself even with debilitating heel pain, you can end up damaging your tissues and even develop abnormal moving patterns. It doubles your risk of experiencing severe injury while also increasing the inflammation in your fascia.
For cases that are severe, orthopedic surgeons or podiatrists do not suggest any high-impact activities such as running. Ignoring this will lead to the worsening of your symptoms and prolonging your pain. Ultimately, it does not matter what the severity of your plantar fasciitis is. Still, it is essential to remember that you must not run till you have addressed your foot condition and devised a plan to avoid future complications.
Tips To Run With Plantar Fasciitis
Here are some tips you can use to run safely without affecting your plantar fasciitis. These tips can also help you relieve the fascia pain, even if you are not a runner, to help recover from this foot condition faster:
Switch To Better Shoes/Footwear
One can honestly not stress this enough when you are a runner. Not only are wearing worn-out and unsupportive shoes a significant deal-breaker when you have plantar fasciitis but there is also a high chance it is a significant contributing reason to why you developed this condition in the first place.
Not only must you switch to running shoes that provide you excellent traction, comfort, arch support, and fit, but you must also choose these qualities in the other kind of footwear you wear. There is much orthotic footwear available on the market for your daily wear, even plantar fasciitis flip flops. The proper footwear is critical to better care for your feet in the long run and avoiding injuries.
Warm-Up Before The Run
Warming up before your run is probably the most underrated yet vital part of the routine. Although, we do not suggest you going all out and stretching each of your muscles. The outcome you must achieve from a good warm-up is to gradually improve the range of your motions, increase the elasticity of your ligaments, and also increase your heart rate and body temperature.
A warm-up provides a wake-up call to your legs and hip flexors, which is why you must perform it before your running routine. It can include leg swings, lunges, squats, and even some light jumping jacks. Especially when you have plantar fasciitis, focusing on your calves, ankles, and fascia ligament can help a great deal.
While stretching is an essential tool to incorporate, we don’t advise you to only focus on your legs and feet when you stretch. Help your muscles to strengthen by targeting your thighs, feet, and calves. It helps increase your flexibility, reduces pain experiences, and enables you to relieve the tension in your lower body altogether before the run.
Icing your feet can assist in the post-run heel pain once you have cooled down your body. You can ice for about 10-15 minutes after every run and even devise an icing routine throughout the day if you have persistent heel pain.
However, icing does not only mean that you have to pull out some ice cubes and rub them on your feet. There are many options available on the market for ice therapy slippers, and you can even submerge your feet in a bucket of ice water. You wouldn’t believe us, but some people also opt for a bag of frozen vegetables and hold it at the bottom of their foot. Anything works!
Always listen to your body! This is true for when you have plantar fasciitis, but it also stands true otherwise if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you need to reduce the intensity or volume of your workouts or even take off a couple of days to rest, it is absolutely fine! You do not have to feel guilty. Instead, embrace the fact that pushing your body through pain is never a good idea.
Running is an activity aimed at making you healthier and not putting your body through unbearable pain. When you have mild plantar fasciitis, it is essential to take care of your feet, so you don’t worsen the symptoms. Take time off between your runs, start slow, and give your body some rest.
Don’t Overlook Foot Pain
I know you want to ignore your foot and heel pain even when it becomes acute. That’s something all runners are notorious for doing. However, we suggest you take immediate action on noticing pain or even following tips that will help you release the pain of plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries.
Moisturized But Dry!
Your feet can crack during a run due to the friction caused by your feet rubbing against the socks. It can lead to gait changes, blisters and even trigger your painful hotspots. Applying moisturizer after you jump out of the shower can help you deal better under such circumstances.
But remember not to apply the moisturizer before a run. It is essential to keep your feet dry when you run to avoid fungal problems or even an athlete’s foot. It is always great to follow this routine daily, even when you have recovered from plantar fasciitis.
Wearing orthotic inserts is one of the best ways you can manage your plantar fasciitis as a runner. These inserts can help cushion the heel and also align the arch of your foot correctly. You can find many unique inserts that can slip into any pair of shoes of your choice, are light in weight, and provide similar support as orthotic shoes (but are light on the pocket).
You will also get the added benefit of improving your correcting minor gait problems in your feet, like pronation or supination. It will help take off extra pressure from your arch automatically.
No Hard Surfaces
We always suggest going slow and soft on your feet while running with plantar fasciitis. Even if you choose to add some mileage to your runs, increment distance gradually. If you try to go all out, you can end up putting a lot of strain on your feet.
Sock Night Splint
One of the reasons you experience pain in the morning with plantar fasciitis is the lack of motion in your sleep, which tightens the ligament and muscles in the feet. Incorporating a sock night splint can always help in keeping your fascia stretched when you sleep. It will quickly assist in reducing inflammation, ensuring that the morning pain of plantar fasciitis does not hit you as hard (or at all).
For experienced runners, if you experience bouts of plantar fasciitis, we always recommend you to take a few days off before you run again. Pay attention to stretching your feet now and then, and incorporate stretches that will help loosen up the legs and calves.
Non-supportive shoes can be a substantial contributing factor to developing this foot condition. Therefore, you must also invest in a good pair of comfortable and supportive shoes along with orthotic inserts. You can bring back running into your exercise routine at a slow pace and reduced volume. Over time, you can start building up your strength for regular workouts.
If you are new to running and have developed plantar fasciitis and have a mild to moderate case, you can switch to walking for a while. Slowly, incorporate runnings on intervals during your walks, or begin with light jogs. We encourage you to take a rest for a few days to give your feet ample time to heal.
An icing routine will also turn out beneficial for both cases. Make sure to apply cold compression to your feet at least twice a day. Another thing to keep in mind is to stop running if your pain becomes severe and seek medical advice.
Dr Kristine has a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from New York College of Podiatric Medicine, and currently assists our team of shoe experts by fact-checking and confirming the information presented to the readers. As a podiatrist, she has previously worked with numerous athletes, working professionals, and high to low activity individuals on the impacts of a lifestyle on their feet. She has submitted many research papers on the role of the correct footwear in foot health and how to take adequate care of your feet.
Previously, she worked in a foot clinic attached to a hospital, before she decided to have a private practice in 2012. She has more than 15 years of experience in foot health and has been incredibly gracious in providing her expertise to the Wearsty team! Her patients have ranged from ordinary people ailing with foot problems regarding obesity, old age, and foot stress—to athletes, runners, and workers who have demanding routines.