Did I just step on a nail? The pain in the sole of the foot
By Kamal Singh
Completing a half marathon was always on Tanvi’s bucket list. When her doctor told her that she needed to start an exercise program, Tanvi plunged into the running lifestyle, bought the latest running shoes etc. Everything was going fine till she started to get a dull ache in the sole of her left foot, first thing in the morning. She ignored the pain and continued her running. Then one morning she woke up and tried standing up, the pain was so sharp that she thought she had stepped on a nail. She nixed the idea of her morning run as she could barely walk. She was better by the afternoon, but she did go see her doctor.
The doctor examined her and said she had a case of Plantar fasciitis. The foot has a thick band of fibrous tissue, which extends from the heel to the toes. This band can get overstretched, inflamed and develop tiny tears, leading to pain and tenderness. The pain could be worse in the morning, or if standing for too long. Runners are particularly prone to Plantar Fasciitis if they suddenly up their mileage, or buy new shoes and simultaneously up their mileage. Amongst the inactive population, overweight middle-aged women are most likely to develop Plantar Fasciitis.
Possible Causes of Plantar Fasciitis
•Sudden increase in bodyweight. This would be a no-brainer as most of the increase in bodyweight directly affects the lower extremities.
•Sudden increase in activity. Runners and walkers increasing their mileage abruptly in a desire to quickly achieve their fitness goals. This is especially true of the new over-enthusiastic runner, who wants to go from couch to a marathon in a month!
•Calf muscles becoming stiff and tight. This can be the result of wearing high heels.
•People with flat feet or high arches are also at risk for developing Plantar fasciitis.
The cure – prevention
•Keep your bodyweight in check! Keeping bodyweight down has a positive impact on almost all aspects of a person’s life.
•We need to learn to hurry slowly with our fitness programs. You cannot improve your fitness over night by doing more. This usually leads to overuse issues. I highly recommend joining a running club if you intend pursuing running as your preferred activity. Most of these clubs have members who have running for a long time and they can easily guide the newbie.
Stretch and strengthen
•Foam roll the calf muscles.
•Stretch the calf muscles.
•Toe stretch and massage for the sole of the affected foot eases Plantar Fasciitis quickly. Sit with with your affected foot on the other knee. With one hand pull the toes back. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds. While doing the stretch, massage the sole of the foot. Do the toe stretch and massage for 10 repetitions. Do this three times in a day, till the pain goes away.
Plantar fasciitis can be resistant to treatment and can lead to loss of training days for the active person. Thus in this case prevention is definitely better than cure. So if starting a running get assessed by a competent physiotherapist and get a running program from a seasoned coach.
(A strength and conditioning coach for the last 15 years, Kamal Singh, CSCS, specialises in post rehabilitation training and functional training.)