I’m going to be honest with you. This week’s run didn’t go as planned. After spending the week focusing on overcoming a few niggles and injuries, I was confident I’d be able to plough on with my training with little fuss. But I got it wrong or more to the point, I got my preparation wrong.
I’d spent all week focusing on overcoming plantar fascitis that when it came to my nutrition, hydration, sleep and mobility I wasn’t where I should be. This meant that whilst my legs felt great and my plantar fascia pain was minimal, I hit a wall 16km in to a 26km run. Whilst I plodded on and completed the 26km, I now know I need to share my focus this week before attempting next week’s run. After all, learning is what training’s for isn’t it?
Anyway, as I mentioned after practicing what I preach my plantar fascia pain was minimal throughout my run, fantastic! So I thought I’d show you all what I’ve been doing to get on top of the pain.
Firstly, lets take a look at what causes plantarfascitiis:
Plantar fascitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia on the underneath of your foot. Often caused by an overload to the foot from running or exercise. Tightness around the calf can be a big contributor but an altered gait when running can also increase the loading of the foot. Therefore it’s important to keep mobile and strong in the whole leg.
To reduce pain and tightness I focused on the following exercises:
- Heat: By applying heat to the calf muscles it helps reduce the tightness and make it more comfortable when stretching / foam rolling.
- ICE: As the fascia attachment is inflamed, ice to the sole of the foot will help reduce the inflammation and soreness.
- Foam Rolling: Using a foam roller I rolled the calfs, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes on both legs. I find 30 seconds on each muscle x 3 sets works best. Although the fascia is too strong to stretch, some relief can be gained from rolling a ball (golf ball or hard ball) under the sole of your foot.
- Stretching: It’s important to reduce the tightness in both the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscle in the calf. The stretches for these can be seen in the photos above. I hold these for 30 seconds x 3 sets.
- Compex / TENS: From experience I’ve found a TENS or Compex machine is a really good way to reduce muscle tightness quite quickly. It works by providing a small electrical stimulation to the muscles to gently contract and then relax them.
- Acupuncture: Another great way to reduce the muscle tension is acupuncture. Luckily our very own physio Alex Turner was on hand to provide some acupuncture to the muscle belly.
- Massage: Soft tissue massage of the muscles is a great way to reduce both the lactic acid and tension that accumulates in the muscles. Once again our very own Alex Turner was able to loosen off both my soleus and gastrocnemius.
Whilst the pain is reduced, we cant just treat the symptoms and have to focus on stopping the cause of the problem. For this injury that is strengthening the muscles in the leg to reduce the load on the plantar fascia.
I’ve been completing calf raises from the edge of a step, providing both a strengthening element but also a stretch at the same time. Starting at 3 sets of 10 reps, I’m slowly building the reps up to 3 sets of 15 reps when the movement becomes too easy.
Now to focus on my mobility and recovery techniques for next week.
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