Running is one of the favourite exercises enjoyed by Australians, and summer is a great time to do it, especially if you run during the morning, late afternoon, and evening and avoid the hottest part of the day.
There is just something about running that seems to free your spirit and make you feel more alive. Whether it’s because of the increased endorphins producing the famous “runner’s high” or simply because you want to stay fit or lose weight, running is simply the exercise choice of millions of people. There are a number of ways that running benefits you:
- Strengthens your heart
- Lowers your risk of cancer
- Keeps your muscles toned
- Burns off excess fat
- Maintains a healthy brain
It’s not necessary to run for miles every day, either, even 10 minutes can provide benefits to your body and general health – but can also lead to injuries which could be prevented if you’re already seeing a massage therapist.
The Down Side of Running
As much fun, and as healthy as running is, there is one condition that all runners dread. Referred to as “runner’s heel” or “jogger’s heel”, plantar fasciitis causes such intense pain that running will have to be abandoned, at least temporarily.
Your first hint that you have plantar fasciitis is the appalling pain that you feel in the affected foot on getting up in the morning. You may well be in such pain that it will be nearly impossible to stand or walk normally, let alone run. Some people may experience a cessation of pain as they go through the day, but others will be subject to continuous, sharp pain in the affected foot.
Running along the bottom of your foot, there is a ligament, the plantar fascia, which connects your toes to your heel. This is a broad band that covers nearly the entire underside of your foot and helps hold up the arch. When this ligament is damaged or strained, pain will develop, most usually in the heel. It’s relatively easy to damage the ligament and those who are at highest risk to do so include:
- Joggers and runners
- Those who have to stand for long periods of time
- Overweight people
- People who have an abnormal gait
- Those who are middle aged
- People who run or jog wearing inappropriate footgear
The plantar fascia is what gives spring to our step as it alternately stretches and contracts. It’s easy to understand how, with all the weight and punishment the plantar fascia undergoes constantly, that injury can be done to this ligament resulting in the painful plantar fasciitis.
Can Massage Help Treat Plantar Fasciitis?
If you enjoy getting outside and running, or even walking, plantar fasciitis can put a quick stop to your activities. The shooting pains simply cannot be ignored, and it will be impossible to resume your favorite outside sport until your foot heals.
Consulting with a massage therapist can help to relieve the pain of this condition and help get you back on the road again.
The first thing that must be done will be to provide rest for the injured foot. This is not a condition you can ‘work through’; it will only get worse if you continue to run. Your therapist may also suggest for you to find a podiatrist who may suggest implants for your shoes that will provide support not only while the plantar fascia heals, but also once you begin running again.
Obviously, a professional massage to the foot will help to bring more blood to the area and hasten healing. In addition to providing a deep tissue massage to your foot, your therapist will usually massage the calf as well. Research has proven that deep tissue massage for the calf will help heal the injured ligament more quickly than massage of the foot alone.
Plantar fasciitis isn’t the end of your running, but it does mean that the foot must be allowed to heal and that you will have to take precautions in the future to prevent its recurrence.