CLINIC: Can I Run Through Rehab?

Wed, 22 Aug. 2012 - 7:34 p.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
I’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. I try to run 40 miles weekly, but that number sometimes winds up being closer to 20. I’ve already been running in very well-cushioned shoes. I get the pain after I’ve been running for about 15 miles, and it does stop when I stop running. I am a female weighing 125 lbs. I’d love to fix this problem once and for all, but mainly I want to know if there is a way I can continue running while still allowing it to heal. 
 
Carrie O’Flaherty
Westlake, OH
 
ANSWER:
I suggest you decrease your mileage. The fact that the symptoms only begin after you’re well into your long runs would seem to indicate that you could continue running, only shorter distances. Essentially, the ligament running along the bottom of your foot from your heel to the base of your toes has become overstretched or inflamed. This requires that on your runs you stop before the symptoms begin. The injury will only progress otherwise.
 
Pronation pulls on the plantar fascia so you might benefit from shoes that control motion; you currently have shoes that absorb shock. An orthotic can help control pronation also, so check with a podiatrist to determine whether that may help. It’s also important to stretch your Achilles tendon both before and after your workouts. And don't be surprised if the reduced mileage and motion control shoes still take six weeks to alleviate the problem. Patience is often the hardest thing to hold onto when recovering from injury!
 
Gene S. Mirkin, DPM
Kensington, MD
 
ANSWER:
This is the start of pool season and so I would encourage deep water running. The buoyancy will allow you to run without too much stress on the fascia. In addition I suggest adding a strength-building yoga class to your regimen.
 
Ben Pearl, DPM
Arlington, VA

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® March / April 2010 • Volume 28, Number 2)

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