ADVICE FOR RUNNERS I've talked before of my wife's quest to do a couch to 5K challenge, but somewhere in the early days, plantar fasciitis took her out of the running (pun intended). However, plantar fasciitis is an issue that can plague runners of any age and running ability. In fact plantar fasciitis acounts for about 8% of all running injuries. I've always said that prevention is the best way to go, as opposed to having to treat it on the tail end. So here's some advice that I would give to runners to help prevent them from injuring their plantar fascia. STRETCH THE CALF I know it is easy to just want to do a slow jog for a warm up, but trust me stretch your calves. Why, you ask? Well think of your calf muscles as a cable, held in place by the Achille's tendon which anchors the calf to the heel bone. So tight calves tend to put excessive tension on the plantar fascia located right around the corner ( it being anchored to the same bone as well). Calves already have a tendency to get tight while running, so making sure they are properly stretched and warmed up at the beginning is a great first step. Don't overlook this, just because you don't have any problems yet. INCREASE MILEAGE GRADUALLY Sudden increases in mileage are one of the top things that cause a runner to get plantar fasciitis. A runner might be in great shape, and easily able to go from running 3 miles to 5 miles cardio vascularly (is that a word?), but the feet don't always follow suit. That sudden increase of mileage puts a lot of extra stress on that connective tissue down there, and can start causing micro-tears and inflammation very easily. Ease into increasing mileage, say only about .25 miles a day, and your feet will thank you for it. Trust me, better to stay in the game by doing this slow, than to knock yourself out because you went too fast. CHANGE YOUR RUNNING SHOES REGULARLY If you are like me, chances are you don't like to buy new pairs of running shoes every few months. (OK, it is not that I wouldn't like to, I don't like the expense.) So I tend to want to put it off until my shoes are falling apart. But I've learned from others, when shoes wear out, you aren't protecting the arches or heels any more, and damage is sure to be coming. Don't force your plantar fascia to absorb significantly more strain because you are wearing worn out running shoes. The lesson -get new shoes regularly! And when you buy new running shoes, spend the extra money and buy some with great arch support and plenty of cushioning. You can always ask the sale's person what they recommend, as most are very knowledgeable about brands and shoes. Treat your feet right, and they will treat your right! Remember you are in this for the long haul, and to run that marathon, you can't take short cuts when it comes to your feet. As always, stay HEALTHY, so you can stay FIT. Drew
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