Common running injuries - sole of foot pain
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Pain in the sole of the foot is usually caused by inflammation of the 'plantar fascia'. This is a structure like a ligament (a tissue that joins bone with bone) that runs from the bottom of the heel to the ball of the foot and toes. The plantar fascia is extremely important in supporting the foot shape. It can become inflamed anywhere though the most common place is at the point where it attaches to the heel underneath the heel bone. This inflammation is called plantar fascial strain or 'plantar fasciitis'.
The symptoms usually build up slowly with people noticing particular discomfort in the sole of the foot when they place their foot on the ground first thing in the morning.
Initially, the symptoms will ease once you get going but return with increasing levels of activity.
As the condition worsens, it can be present all the time and prove debilitating.
High activity levels and poor foot movement are the most common causes of this problem though there are a whole range of other conditions and illnesses that can contribute to similar symptoms.
In the first instance, stretching exercises for the calf muscle will help as will rest and a local application of heat or ice. You can give your feet an ice massage by freezing a still can of drink, covering it with a tea-towel, placing it on the floor and rolling your foot over it for 5-10 minutes.
An effective heat remedy to improve blood supply is to alternate submersing your foot between a bowl of warm water for one minute and cold water for 30 seconds, 4 to 5 times, starting and finishing in the warm water. In-soles to cushion the heel or support the foot position are often beneficial but may need to be customised. If your symptoms are persisting or worsening then you should seek a professional opinion.
Professionals will advise appropriate exercises and local treatment, often use specific strapping to support the foot position in addition to orthoses and sometimes recommend night splints that keep the fascia stretched over night. In more persistent cases an anti inflammatory injection (cortisone), immobilisation in a cast or surgery may even be needed.
- Average recovery time - can go in weeks, severe cases can last for years.
- Prevention - good stretching, footwear and training programme.
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