Heel spur (also known as plantar fasciitis) is the result of stretching and tearing of the tissue along the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia).
Excessive wear and tear to the plantar fascia of the foot often results in this type of running injury.
It is a common condition among athletes, particularly runners. On this page I will explain what this injury is, how you can treat it, which products you need to use and how you can prevent it.
What is Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis ?
Heel spur or plantar fasciitis is a very painful inflammation in the tissue along the bottom of your foot that connects your heel bone to your toes. This condition usually develops gradually, although the pain may come on quite suddenly. Usually only occurring in one foot, the symptoms vary from person to person and include :
You may also experience swelling of the heel area.
How do runners get Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis ?
Your plantar fascia works like a shock-absorber and supports the arch in your foot. If tension becomes too much, it causes small tears in the fascia. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.
This running injury is very common in runners, whether you do long distance, middle distance or you are a sprinter.
Especially long hours of training, no warming up or cooling down or a sudden increase in workload can trigger the pain.
But as an occassional jogger or walker you may also be at risk of placing too much stress on your heel bone and the soft tissue attached to it.
How to Treat Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis
Treatment is often a slow process. Treatment includes applying cold compresses, strapping and taping and, of course, and you don't want to hear it, ... rest.
Anti-inflammatories such as aspirin and ibuprofen can be used to relieve pain and inflammation and studies have shown some benefits from glucosamine.
Corticosteroid injections give longer relief but a local aesthetic is often required before hand.
Wearing shoes with good arch support is highly recommended. So avoid sandals, flip flops, etc.
Keeping the foot in a dorsi-flexed position with help of a night splint (see picture) during the night has shown benefits and early morning pain can be reduced by stretching the achilles tendon and calf muscles before rising.
Surgical treatment is always a last resort as it can lead to complications including ongoing problems with arches and or compression of the cuboid bone.
How to Prevent Heel Spur / Plantar FasciitisThe risk of this running injury can be considerably lessened by ensuring you discard old running shoes before they stop supporting and cushioning your feet.
Make it a rule to buy new shoes after about 400-600 miles of use.
Remember, when doing your stretches after running, to pay particular attention to your feet, making sure to stretch your feet, Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
But when you do your stretches and everything else in your running training makes sense, then the chances that you get heel spur can be dramatically reduced.
Also check out the heel pain page which talks about some more heel injuries.
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Running Injury Prevention
Foot Injuries: Foot Pain | Black Toenail | Stress Fractures | Posterior Tibial Tendonitis |
Heel Injuries: Heel Pain | Achilles Tendinitis | Heel Spur / Plantar Fasciitis |
Knee Injuries: Knee Pain | Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) |
Leg Injuries: Leg / Calf Cramps | Shin Splints | Hamstring Injury | Hip Pain
Upper Body Injuries: Nipple Chafing | Side Stitch | Back Pain | Chest Pain
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