It is beautiful here in Florida this spring and that means Align Foot and Ankle is seeing more running injuries. The Gasparilla Race kicked off the race season and many people are making good on their New Year’s resolutions to start running or to push themselves for a specific race. This push can often be accompanied by unusual pains. But don’t worry! This doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks! I have outlined a few simple tips that will keep your feet and race-ready! Let’s walk through some issues I often see and ways to prevent running injuries!
Plantar fasciitis. The dreaded heel pain! Pain is typically worse in the mornings when getting out of bed. My wife thought she had a broken foot! Usually after moving around you feel some relief and then pain again after periods of rest.
This injury is completely preventable by stretching the back of the leg. To do so, straighten the leg and knee, bending the foot up. This will pull on the calf and hamstring and will loosen the structure that the plantar fascia connects to. Do this three times a day for thirty seconds.
PRO-TIP: Stretch one hour after you run once the leg has stiffened back up.
There are a few different treatment items for Plantar fasciitis. Stretching is a cure for plantar fasciitis, but ibuprofen 600mg three times a day for 7 days straight (consult a doctor before taking medications) and putting a frozen water bottle on the heel for 20 minutes twice a day will be beneficial to this running injury. You can purchase an over the counter rigid arch support orthotic with a deep heel cup that will provide some relief. The over the counter brands I would recommend are Powerstep control and Purestride RX full length orthotics.
Achilles Tendinitis. Generally occurs at the back of the leg and heel pain is very common within beginner runners or with runners overusing that tendon. The achilles is the largest tendon in the body with the worst blood flow. As people walk, run, and exercise the calf gets tighter and it pulls on the achilles tendon attached to the heel bone. Over time, the tendon gets internally torn and inflamed and begins to weaken and cause pain.
The most effective prevention for this running injury would be to stretch your calves. “Gastroc stretches” are the type of stretch you’ll want to be doing for this pain. In general, the stretch that I would recommend is the same for plantar fasciitis. Heel lifts in shoes also help and can be provided at
Align Foot and Ankle. I recommend adding the heel lift under your shoe insert or getting a shoe with a slight heel lift built in. Shoe manufacturers refer to this as “a drop.”
To treat achilles tendinitis, I would limit bending of the ankle. By limiting the motion of the achilles tendon it allows the pain to subside and prevent further running injuries. The more you walk the more agitated the achilles tendinitis becomes. Rest, ice and repeat! Taking an anti-inflammatory aids in recovery, but please consult your primary care prior to taking medications.
Align Foot and Ankle offers in-office services to treat achilles tendonitis more quickly, including Class IV Laser, Shockwave, and Custom External Shoe Braces that allow normal gait with less ankle bend. EQ IQ braces are also amazing to loosen the calf.
General foot pain with activity. The most common issues I treat are extensor tendinitis (shin splints), capsulitis, and metatarsalgia. These issues are generally due to pressure and overuse. Your joints can easily swell if wearing improper shoes or you are over running on new terrain. Metatarsals are the long bones connected to the toes and they can actually get bruised or get stress fractures with certain foot types.
Proper shoe wear is key to prevention of foot pain. High arched feet need supination control shoe wear. Flat feet need pronation control and heel lifts that are built into shoes help with the achilles, while zero drop shoes allow less pressure on metatarsals and toes. Knowing what foot type and compensation one has can help get the right shoe and prevent further running injuries.
At Align Foot and Ankle, I offer custom orthotics that are for chronic heel pain and I will perform a full 3-D Gait Analysis and a 3-D modeling program to design the custom inserts to prevent running injuries. Other options are available in the office if your plantar fasciitis isn’t resolving such as Shockwave (EPAT) treatment, Class IV laser, Amnion Injections. Rare cases from running injuries may require surgery.
In summary, stretching is key and I recommend easing into any stretching program. I have runners that can run 10 miles on concrete that decide to run on the beach and after only two miles get peroneal tendonitis! Finally, any new shoes you run in, let your feet and gait get used to that terrain to prevent overuse or acute running injuries.