Your eye’s open with a few slow blinks. The blaring alarm cuts the silence as you give a quick stretch in bed and contemplate a few swipes of the snooze button.
Begrudgingly, you push yourself to the edge of the bed to start your day. One last quick stretch before your feet hit the ground. You’ve hobbled out of bed before — no big deal. Just another day of compromise between your body and your running goals; however, this morning is different. Your first few steps are comparable to stepping on a nail. An onlooker would mistake you for a gunshot victim as your limp your way to the bathroom.
The weird thing? The hobble rapidly reverses. Within a few minutes you’re walking normally again. Phew!
Unfortunately, the next few days your foot hits the repeat button. If you’re like 99.9% of other runners, the absence of symptoms outside of the morning hobble is a clear green light to continue running. Slowly (and surely) your symptoms start to creep into other aspects of your life. The ride to the bottom is quick as your heel progresses to a “bruised” feeling. It’s not long before you completely run yourself out of running.
Take a look at this video to learn more about plantar fasciitis & heel pain:
A Focus on Healing (or Preventing) Injury
Heel pain is typically blamed on the arch of the foot. Knee jerk reactions leave an overwhelming portion of the population looking to inserts or arch supports. As you have or will likely find, it’s rarely effective. Many (medical professionals included) believe that overpronation increases the load on the plantar fascia (thus the inserts), but several comprehensive reviews have failed to distinguish a definitive link between the amount of pronation and plantar fasciitis.1,2
Truthfully, most injuries occur for multiple reasons and heel pain is no different. The majority of injuries are a result from errors and inefficiencies in the surrounding tissue–not the site of pain. For example, a sore knee is often the result of a weak butt.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine compared two buckets of patients. When comparing those with and without heel pain, the symptomatic group had greater ground reaction force loading rates.3
Cutting through the jargon this essentially equates to NOT controlling your body as you hit the ground.
As you begin to look at a preventative (or rehab) model, there’s a huge need to own your anatomy. Targeted strengthening and balance work have far-reaching benefits to not only this injury but many others–not to mention the improvements in overall speed. If you’re willing to put the work in to improve your strength here’s what to focus on:
For any runner who’s unsure on how to leverage their anatomy through strength training, consider trying BaseSix Bootcamp. This is a six-week, 12-workout strength program I developed for all my runners who have seen me in the clinic. It aims at improving all the primary areas of muscle imbalance, hip and core weakness, and overall poor balance. You can stream the workouts for $1 for the first two weeks by clicking here.
1. Rome K. Anthropometric and biomechanical risk factors in the development of plantar heel pain—a review of the literature. Phys Ther Rev. 1997;2:123–134.
2. Wearing SC, Smeathers JE, Urry SR, et al. The pathomechanics of plantar fasciitis. Sports Med. 2006;36:585–611.
3. Pohl MB, Hamill J, Davis, IS. Biomechanical and Anatomic Factors Associated With a History of Plantar Fasciitis in Female Runners. Clin J Sport Med 2009;0:000–000.