Last weekend (July 19, 2015), I ran the Aspen Power of Four 25K. The 25K is a ~15 mile course with almost 5,000 feet of elevation gain.
Less than two months prior, I wasn’t completely sure I could even run a race this season – never mind a fast and furious mountain race like the Power of Four. I had developed a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot, and a bit of Achilles Tendonitis in my left foot.
Through a lot of trial and error, here are five ways to deal with nasty stuff like Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis:
The most effective way to heal soft tissue injuries. I have heard that “most” soft tissue injuries can heal within 3 weeks, if undisturbed.
Taking 2-3 weeks off from anything running-related can feel like torture when you are used to running almost every single day. A way to get through not running is cross-training. For me, cycling and swimming worked. That did require an investment of money – a gym membership and eventually, a bike. But that was worth it considering I would have gone insane otherwise. I ended up taking about two weeks completely off from running-based activities and that seemed to do the trick.
It’s also amazing what even one or two days off will do to help. If your feet are feeling really beat up – take an unscheduled day off. It may do a world of help.
The ultimate bonus is that rest doesn’t cost you anything. And if you’re careful, and don’t let your injuries get too severe, a five to seven day break will not cost you too much in terms of fitness either.
2. Running Form
This is the underlying cause of my injuries. And obviously, if you don’t fix your underlying issue, you will only continue to have problems.
You can even look at this photo from the ECTA Trail 10 Miler below. Right around the time things went downhill for me:
I was running too far up my toes – and this became even worse as I ran on the road with Nike Frees. I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in Nike Frees, and I was pretty screwed after that.
Mid-foot strike has always kept me relatively healthy even at high mileage. If you’re too far up on your feet, you are putting a ton of force below your knees – feet, ankles, and calves.
I began running again regularly this Spring by wearing insoles.
The best insoles I tried out were Cadence Insoles – which helped by providing support and by reducing vibration.
4. The Strassburg Sock
The Strassburg Sock is highly recommended for Plantar Fasciitis.
The concept is simple, yet very effective.
Slip on the Strassburg Sock at night – and it keeps tension on your plantar fascia. Keeping the fascia stretched allows it to heal fully.
Otherwise, during the night, your tissue will relax, and heal in a relaxed position. When it comes time to wake up, and you start walking around again – the tissue is going to stretch out, and re-injure.
In my quest to keep running while recovering from injury – I used quite a bit of KT Tape.
I found that taping helped prevent further injury. That being said, I used it as a crutch for several months, likely slowing my recovery.
Like insoles, taping provides support – but you have to be honest with yourself with it. Taping, in my experience, can be used as a crutch to allow you to ignore injury. You hobble around with bad form – and can create bad running habits.
On top of that, KT Tape gets expensive.
Dealing with soft tissue issues can be tough because the key is you have to lay off to some degree. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!