Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Physical Therapist, Orthopedic and
Sports Injury Specialist
Athletes in and around the Pomona Valley area are preparing to run the
Holiday 5K and Half Marathon at the Pomona Fairplex on December 10-11,
2016 (register here:www.runholidayhalf.com), and Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Services
team is ready help you with your training needs!
One of the most common injuries seen in runners is plantar fasciitis, also
known as Runner’s Heel. Approximately 10 percent of all runners
will experience this injury throughout their athletic career. So, what
is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia (the
fibrous tissue that supports the arch of your foot). It is often caused
by repetitive microtrauma, sometimes as a result of running or walking
greater distances than one is accustomed to, but can also result from
the daily prolonged standing that is required in many occupations. Shoes
that lack adequate arch support may also contribute to the development
of plantar fasciitis, or hinder recovery.
The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the bottom of the heel
or arch of the foot with standing and walking activities. Pain tends to
be worse with standing or walking after prolonged periods of inactivity,
especially first thing in the morning.
Like most inflammatory conditions, it is necessary to decrease stress to
the inflamed area. This is accomplished by trying to limit the amount
of repetitive weight-bearing activities such as walking, running and jumping.
Using ice for 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a day is beneficial during the acute
phase of plantar fasciitis. The best way to ice the bottom of your foot
is to freeze a plastic bottle of water, place it on the floor with your
foot on top and roll your foot back and forth over the frozen bottle.
This will cool, stretch and massage the bottom of the foot.
Stretching and strengthening exercises may facilitate recovery and help
to prevent future flare-ups. Stretching the calf by pulling the foot back
with a towel, and stretching the plantar fascia by pulling up the big
toe with your hand, can help improve flexibility and reduce stress on
the plantar fascia. Performing a few of these stretches for 2-4 minutes
before stepping out of bed can help to reduce the pain with standing and
walking first thing in the morning. Strengthening exercises should include
standing heel raises and toe gripping. Toe gripping is performed with
your foot flat on a towel on a hard floor. Then flex your toes to “scrunch”
up the towel under the toes. After about 10 repetitions, stretch out the
towel and start over again. Repeat the cycle 10 times. This exercise helps
strengthen muscles that support the arch of the foot.
A night splint can also be worn while sleeping to keep the foot in a position
that gently stretches the plantar fascia to prevent resting all night
with these tissues in a shortened position. Night splints can be custom
fitted by your physical therapist, or “off the shelf,” splints
are available from medical supply or foot specialty stores. Use of a night
splint will usually significantly reduce the pain of walking first thing
in the morning and will facilitate healing. In my own experience with
plantar fasciitis, in the first few weeks after onset, I felt severe sharp
pain under my heel as soon as I got out of bed every morning and began
walking. As soon as I started using a night splint, that sharp morning
pain almost completely went away. I tried wearing a rigid custom fitted
night splint and also used a soft splint called the strassburg sock. I
found that both types of night splint were equally effective.
Finally, the choice of footwear is critical. Shoes with proper support
and cushioning should be worn for any extensive walking or running activity.
Some specialty walking or running shoe stores have well trained staff
who can help fit you properly. Additionally, off-the-shelf orthotic inserts
can be an inexpensive option for achieving good support. Visit your nearest
athletic shoe store and get a proper fitting on your running shoes or insoles.
Consult your doctor and get evaluated by a physical therapist if pain continues
for more than two or three weeks. Patients often do not see me until they
have been suffering for months and at that point, recovery usually takes
For more information on the services and programs offered by Pomona Valley
Hospital Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Services Department, including
four locations in Pomona, Chino Hills, Claremont and Covina, visit:www.pvhmc.org/rehabilitation.