How to Safely Continue Running With Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that results from inflammation of the plantar fascia (a band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes). Walking, running, and even standing on your feet when you have plantar fasciitis can be very painful and uncomfortable.

When your plantar fasciitis is treated appropriately, you can manage symptoms and resume activities with less pain and discomfort.

This article will discuss treatment options and tips for running safely with plantar fasciitis.

painful feet with running

Rapeepong Puttakumwong / Getty Images

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

The plantar fascia supports the main arch of the foot and absorbs force when transferring weight between your feet when walking and running. It can cause sharp pain where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone and along the foot's arch.

Other symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Pain that worsens with the first steps of the morning
  • Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting, standing, lying down, or walking
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Calf muscle tightness and decreased ankle range of motion
  • Swelling at the heel

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

Treatment for plantar fasciitis involves decreasing inflammation and increasing the strength and range of motion of the foot and ankle muscles. Treatment options include:

  • Resting and limiting standing, walking, and running
  • Applying ice or a cold pack to your feet
  • Stretching and strengthening your feet and ankles
  • Using anti-inflammatory medication
  • Massaging your foot and calf muscles
  • Wearing custom foot orthotics or a night splint
  • Cortisone injections
  • Physical therapy

Is Running With Plantar Fasciitis Safe?

People who struggle with plantar fasciitis can resume running, but be cautious to avoid further pain and injury. Plantar fasciitis in runners most often develops from increasing the distance, speed, duration, and/or frequency of running too much too soon, which causes repeated impact to the feet.

The forces absorbed through the feet with running are the equivalent of double or triple your body weight.

Early treatment is important for managing your symptoms to maintain your ability to run. If you have severe and/or persistent pain, you should stop running temporarily. Once your condition has improved with appropriate treatment, you can gradually work back up to running again.

How Long Should You Stop Running?

The severity of your plantar fasciitis will determine how long you will need to stop running, but generally, a break of one to two weeks may be necessary to help decrease your symptoms.

10 Tips for Runners With Plantar Fasciitis

Certain modifications and tips can help make running with plantar fasciitis less painful.

Wear the Right Shoes 

Flat feet and low foot arches increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis due to increased strain on the foot arches, which stresses the plantar fascia. This can cause chronic inflammation of the plantar fascia over time.

Wearing the right running shoes with supportive foot arches is crucial for maintaining proper alignment of the joints, connective tissue, and muscles of your feet and ankles.

Warm Up Before Every Run

Warming up before you run can help improve circulation and decrease joint stiffness and muscle tightness, reducing strain on your feet as you run. Warm-up exercises can include anything that activates your muscles and moves your joints, such as ankle circles, heel raises, leg swings, squats, and lunges.

Do Plantar Fasciitis Stretches Daily

Tight foot and calf muscles can alter your foot, and ankle alignment and place increased stress on the plantar fascia. Regularly stretching your toes and ankles can help improve your flexibility and decrease symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

Include Cross-Training Workouts 

Running is a repetitive activity that only works for specific muscle groups and repeatedly stresses joints in the same fashion. Cross-training is especially important for runners to train and strengthen muscles in different ways to correct muscle imbalances, improve functional joint alignment, and decrease the risk of repetitive overuse injuries.

To cross-train, runners should focus on balance exercises and strength training of different muscle groups with varying resistances and movements, including up and down, forward and backward, and side to side.

Rest Regularly 

Plantar fasciitis is similar to tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), resulting from too much strain on a muscle’s tendon without adequate rest. Running too many miles per day and too many days per week without allowing your body to rest causes stress on the arches of your feet from overuse.

Taking enough rest days between running sessions will ensure that your body has time to recover to prevent plantar fasciitis from developing or worsening.

Massage Your Feet Carefully 

Massaging your feet and calves can help reduce muscle tightness, allowing the joints to move easier and decrease the pull on the plantar fascia. Massage carefully to apply firm pressure to help relieve tightness but avoid pressing too hard, which can cause sharp pain, especially during acute flare-ups of plantar fasciitis.

Apply Ice Daily

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition that can benefit from cold application to decrease pain, inflammation, and swelling. Using ice or a cold pack applied to your feet can help reduce symptoms. 

You can also roll your foot back and forth using a frozen water bottle, which is effective for applying both cold and pressure to help relieve pain and tightness. 

Avoid Running on Uneven Surfaces 

Running on uneven surfaces requires increased work from your foot and ankle muscles to stabilize your joints. Because the plantar fascia is already inflamed and irritated, the challenge of running on uneven ground can cause increased stress.

Address Any Foot Pain 

Any foot pain will limit your ability to bear weight through your feet comfortably and can alter your foot mechanics with walking and running. Foot pain can result from various causes, so it is best to consult with your healthcare provider, a podiatrist, or a physical therapist to address the underlying cause of your foot pain and receive appropriate treatment.  

Consider Kinesiology Taping

Kinesiology taping your foot and ankle may help improve your foot alignment to decrease pain and support your arches when you walk or run. Usually, two pieces of tape are used.

The first piece of tape is applied from the bottom of the foot near the heel and adhered to the Achilles tendon at the back of the calf. This provides a mild stretch and keeps the foot pointing up toward you.

The second piece of tape is applied at the outer edge of the bottom of the foot and pulled horizontally across the arch to be secured on the inner and top sides of your foot. This piece helps support the arch of your foot.

When to See a Specialist 

If your plantar fasciitis symptoms have not improved within one month of trying at-home treatments, you should see a healthcare provider. They may recommend that you see an orthopedic physician, podiatrist, or physical therapist (movement experts who treat injuries and conditions related to the feet and ankles).

Summary

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia at the bottom of the foot, causing pain that worsens with standing, walking and running. Treatments like proper rest, icing, stretching, massage, kinesiology tape, avoiding uneven surfaces, and decreasing your running intensity can help manage symptoms. You may need one to two weeks or more of a break from running to reduce the severity of your plantar fasciitis. 

A Word From Verywell 

While it can be frustrating to take a break from running, giving yourself time to heal is necessary to reduce symptoms of plantar fasciitis. When appropriately managed with rest, ice, supportive footwear, and stretches, plantar fasciitis can be managed so you can safely return to physical activity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does running make plantar fasciitis worse?

    Running can worsen symptoms of plantar fasciitis if treatment methods are not used. Rest and supportive footwear are essential for decreasing stress at the foot arches.

  • Can you do cardio workouts with plantar fasciitis?

    You can perform cardio workouts when you have plantar fasciitis, but you should be mindful of limiting the amount of time you are on your feet if your symptoms increase. The use of supportive footwear with arch support is important when participating in any workout that requires being on your feet.

  • What is the most effective way to heal plantar fasciitis?

    Rest, ice, foot and calf stretch, and supportive footwear are generally effective in decreasing symptoms of plantar fasciitis.

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10 Sources
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