If you are a runner or if you have ever been a runner chances are you have experienced some type of heel pain, achilles problem or the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Many of these issues stem from the same root cause- we spend so long sitting that we actually change the length of our calves and our calves get way too tight. Once this happens, the strain on the tendon gets so much it starts to pull on the bone and then has horrible blood supply because the heel is so far from the heart and so close to the skin.
Combining these factors is why so many heel or foot problems are worse either first thing in the morning or after extended periods of rest- they have had a chance to stiffen up. So what is the solution? Don’t go and buy the first pair of zero drop shoes you see- this barefoot running thing is great, but if you have spent virtually any time in high heels or even male work shoes your body is used to having some heel to forefoot drop. Sure if given enough time these shoes will help increase the length of your achilles, but the key is “if given enough time.” Please do not try these shoes when recovering from injury (as a side note after a hard interval run you can often catch me in the office in my cowboy boots- the extra heel takes the pressure away from my already stressed heel & foot).
So if suffering heel pain, achilles problems of plantar fasciitis here are a few things that you can try right now:
- Soak your feet in a tub of hot water- tap water is hot enough, this will increase the blood flow to the injured area and will increase the speed of recovery
- Negative stair drops- as opposed to using the stairs for calf raises, try starting from neutral and dropping the affected heel below 90 degrees- this will stress and strengthen without the strain. Use your non injured side to help bring the heel back to normal.
- Foam roll & golf ball- with the foam roller through the hamstring, quads & calf and the golf ball through the foot you can massively reduce the muscle tension either side of the sore spot, decreasing the pressure on the injured area.
- Stretch- but only when warmed up! If an area has poor blood supply and is inflamed don’t ask it to suddenly stretch. A little bit of foot foreplay will go along way to avoiding the slap in the face of reactivating an old injury. Remember to stretch both parts of the calf with the knee straight and knee bent as well as the arch of the feet.
- Kick- this is one of my favourites, but for many runners they have a distinct dislike for the water. Kicking with a set of fins on in the pool keeps the ankle loose and mobile so it will loosen the achilles and supportive ligaments too.
- Wear the right shoes- both when running and recovering is essential. If you are unsure, see the guys from Pure Performance – they have a great range of shoes and will take the time to assess your running technique. Additionally, their oofoos recovery sandles may not be pretty, but are certainly effective.
We at Transitions Chiropractic love seeing what our Newcastle athletes are achieving and here are a few tips and tricks that you can try to help you keep pushing the limits.