From pounding the pavement running to spending a day in fashionable shoes that lack proper support, feet take a beating. If you're training for a race this Spring and upping your mileage, it pays to show your peds some love. You can do some preventive prehab to avoid coming down with a case of plantar fasciitis. This painful condition, which can be common in new runners and affects women more than men, occurs when the the fibrous band that runs from the heel bone to the base of the toes stretches too far and tears. These micro tears cause inflammation of the fascia and the tissues surrounding it, making every footstep painful and abruptly stalling your training schedule. If you're experiencing some unexplainable heel pain, try these methods to keep plantar fasciitis at bay.
Tight calves, a common side affect of running, pull on the fascia, stiffening the tissue and leading to tears. Keeping your calves loose is the first step to taking care of your feet. After every run, or workout, be sure to stretch your calves with at least one of these stretches.
Aside from stretching the calves, keeping your feet flexible will help, too. Simply stretching the sole of your foot by pulling your toes back will help to lengthen the fascia. Here are more details on this plantar fasciitis preventing stretch. Try it next time you're plopped on the couch watching TV.
Another way to keep the foot fascia pliable is to massage your feet regularly. A tennis ball is a cheap, simple solution for daily foot massages, but the smaller Rubz ball allows you to go a little deeper. If you're experiencing foot pain, massage the sole of your foot with a frozen water bottle. The ice helps relieve any swelling that might have occurred.
When was the last time you did strength training for your feet? Keeping the arches strong helps prevent plantar fasciitis. Daily toe scrunching exercises have helped keep many a runner on the road. Check out this video of the toe-scrunching exercise and add it to your daily routine — whether you're running that day or not.