If you run or jog regularly, you may be prone to developing foot problems, especially in the heel. If you have developed plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation under the heel of the foot) there may be ways to alleviate the discomfort without resorting to surgery. For the beginning signs of plantar fasciitis, sometimes referred to as "runner's heel," here are a few "do's and don'ts" you should follow to speed up the recovery process and prevent further damage.
1. DO Visit a Specialist for a Complete Evaluation: To be sure you haven't broken a bone or developed a heel spur that requires additional treatment, the doctor might want to take a X-ray of your foot or perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see more detailed images of the heel tissue. Once the podiatrist or sports doctor has ruled out any other issues and has diagnosed your heel pain as plantar fasciitis, he or she will most likely recommend a treatment option for you.
2. DON'T Continue to Run While Your Heel is Still Inflamed and Painful: Doing so may aggravate the condition. Instead, give your heel time to mend by avoiding pressure on the affected area and resting your foot as much as possible.
3. DO Use Ice at the First Sign of Swelling and Redness: Applying ice may reduce the inflammation. Use an ice pack on and off several times a day or as recommended by your sports doctor. Be sure the ice is wrapped in a towel or other material to avoid direct contact with your skin and avoid possible skin damage.
4. DON'T Walk Barefoot, Even in the House: After your heel pain and inflammation has diminished, you will need to take measures to insure your heel problems do not return. Walking barefoot or in slipper socks will not provide the support you need, especially in the tissue of the heel known as the plantar fascia. For indoors, consider buying orthopedic or therapeutic slippers. Some are made with memory foam which offers additional support and comfort.
5. DO Consider Using Special Inserts or Orthotics Designed to Alleviate Heel Pain: Even if you wear athletic shoes designed for runners, you might want to inquire about adding inserts with a raised heel for pressure relief. Alternatively, your sports doctor or foot specialist may recommend a custom designed orthotic device to wear while your heel is inflamed.
6. DON'T Forget to Warm Up or Stretch Your Foot Before You Resume Your Running: Failing to warm up the foot may cause further injury and stress to your heel. Simply stretch or roll the affected foot before you run and you may avoid future problems.
7. DO Ask Your Doctor About Physical Therapy: Your sports doctor or podiatrist may prescribe physical therapy to help facilitate healing. These sessions may be held at a rehabilitation center where you may perform certain exercises under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist. In many cases, the simple exercises may be continued at home.
8. DON'T Dismiss the Possibility of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): As an alternative to surgery, your doctor may prescribe medications that are intended to reduce inflammation without the use of steroids. These medications may be found over the counter at most pharmacies, and commonly include the drug ibuprofen. In some cases, the doctor may give you a prescription. You should note that some individuals may be sensitive to NSAIDs, even those found over the counter. If ibuprofen tends to cause you stomach distress, inform the doctor who may recommend an alternate treatment option.
To learn more and get treatment, contact resources like Elmhurst Podiatry Center Ltd.