About a week ago after coming home from a 7 mile run I noticed a mild discomfort inside the heel of my left foot.
Now, discomfort on the left side of my body is not an unfamiliar thing. For many years, the entire outside of my left thigh has been somewhat numb, and it was my left leg that suffered severe ITBS several years ago.
At first I thought it was some kind of an anomaly, but as the week progressed I noticed that I can now feel this “thing” inside the heel of my foot all the time - accompanied by soreness all over my left foot, ankle and Achilles tendon. So of course, I started doing some research and I think I’ve got it nailed. It’s a heel spur – which is very much related to Plantar Fasciitis the dreaded runner’s injury that will stop you dead in your tracks if unchecked.
For as long as I’ve been running (19 years), I’ve actually been relatively injury free, but there’s no doubt that since my last big birthday, running related troubles seem are more frequent. As it turns out, as runners age they become more susceptible to bone spurs, which are not actually the problem, but rather a symptom. Here’s what I mean.
According to Web M.D., “A bone spur forms as the body tries to repair itself by building extra bone. It generally forms in response to pressure, rubbing, or stress that continues over a long period of time.
“Some bone spurs form as part of the aging process. As we age, the slippery tissue called cartilage that covers the ends of the bones within joints breaks down and eventually wears away (osteoarthritis)…Bone spurs due to aging are especially common in the joints of the spine and feet.
“Bone spurs also form in the feet in response to tight ligaments, to activities such as dancing and running that put stress on the feet…for example, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia) can become stressed or tight and pull on the heel, causing the ligament to become inflamed (plantar fasciitis).”
The plantar fascia encapsulates muscles in the sole of the foot. It supports the arch of the foot by acting as a bowstring to connect the ball of the foot to the heel. When walking and at the moment the heel of the trailing leg begins to lift off the ground, the plantar fascia endures tension that is approximately two times body weight. This moment of maximum tension is increased and "sharpened" (it increases suddenly) if there is lack of flexibility in the calf muscles. A percentage increase in body weight causes the same percentage increase in tension in the fascia.
Heel spurs are soft, bendable deposits of calcium that are the result of the tension and inflammation in the plantar fascia attachment to the heel. Heel spurs do not cause pain. They are only evidence (not proof) that you may have plantar fasciitis.
Voila! I have all the other symptoms, so I feel pretty comfortable with this self-diagnosis. So now, what am I supposed to do about it?
Well, first, I already know what should be done about Plantar Fasciitis, and the treatment for a heel spur is the same:
- Avoid hill training and speed work
- Massage the bottom of the foot in the morning before getting out of bed
- Practice picking up objects with your toes to strengthen the fascia
- Avoid flip-flops or other shoes that do not provide arch support
- Cut back on mileage until resolution
One of the most important things you can do is keep your calf muscles stretched. You can use a http://prostretch.com/ Pro Stretch device, do standard calf stretching exercises, or even sleep with a Strassburg Sock. There’s also an effective taping technique used by PTs to treat Plantar Fasciitis.
Have you been effected by Plantar Fasciitis or heel spurs? I’d really like to know what you did about it and how effective your treatment approach was.
All About Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis at www.heelspurs.com Yeah, there really IS a website completely devoted to this topic!
Sports Injury Clinic; Plantar Fasciitis / Heel Spur
Heel Pain Videos (stretches)