1. Plantar Fasciitis
The symptoms: Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the bottom of the foot, is perhaps the peskiest problem that plagues the running wounded. The common characteristic of this condition is a sharp, tight, painful sensation at the base of the heel that can be anywhere from annoying to excruciating.
The feeling has been described as comparable to stepping heel first onto a nail. Eventually, the pain might go away as the day or a run is carried out, only to return afterward or again the next day. It’s a vicious cycle for sure.
The causes: Overtraining, overuse, and improper or worn-out footwear can cause pain in your heel, but the root of the problem lies in tight and weakened muscles in the foot. If your feet are weak, the heel takes on an excessive load and can’t handle the training you are trying to do.
The fix: Orthotics and stability shoes oftentimes serve as effective Band-Aids and can help eliminate symptoms in a short period of time, but they’re not a permanent fix. And while I’m not against these quick fixes, by no means are they the only—or the best—way to make the pain in your heel go away. In the short term, avoiding bare feet, stretching and strengthening the calves, rolling your feet around on a golf ball, and icing the affected area will provide some much-needed relief relatively quickly. If possible, see if Active Release Technique, a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function, is available where you live. Long term, diligent stretching combined with strengthening the muscles in and around the feet will address the root of the problem and help offset a recurrence.