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Plantar Fasciitis: A Runner’s Guide to Acupuncture for Prevention and Treatment

Runners often experience wear and tear on their bodies, which is why I see many of them in my practice. The good news is that acupuncture can effectively address and even resolve issues caused by running. In this article, we’ll discuss prevention and treatment options for plantar fasciitis.

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How Can You Prevent Plantar Fasciitis as a Runner? 

The reality is that for runners, plantar fasciitis is a potential occurrence. While it’s not an inevitable outcome, it’s a prevalent side effect that I frequently see in my practice. This ailment is particularly common among those who spend extensive periods of time on their feet, such as avid runners do. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by an inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel to the toes. It often affects runners because of the repetitive impact and stress that running puts on the feet. It’s exacerbated by factors like improper footwear, lack of stretching before training, other training errors, and the personal biomechanics of the runner.

Advice for Preventing Plantar Fasciitis 

Develop a Regular Stretching & Strengthening Routine

In 2021, (1)Pearce et al. demonstrated a strong correlation between the degree of gastrocnemius tightness and the severity of heel pain in plantar fascial patients. Another study in 2021 done by Panid L used ultrasound to look at the muscle tissue after doing stretches for 45 seconds to 1 minute and found that after 6 weeks the muscle fibers increased in length and allowed for more ankle dorsiflexion.  These changes stayed even after the subjects stopped doing the stretches.

My Advice: As your acupuncturist, I recommend that you start a consistent stretching & Strengthening routine. Start with the calves, soleus, peroneus, and the bottom of your feet. A good general start would be 10 repetitions of both the towel scrunch exercise and big toe raises. Then do straight and bent knee calf stretches. Hold the stretches for at least 1 minute and repeat 2 times a the day for 6 weeks. We can work on a personalized graduated movement strategy  during our session.

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Invest in Appropriate Footwear

My Advice: Regularly replace athletic shoes. Don’t use the same old lawn-stained sneakers you’ve had since college (no matter how comfy they are!). Non-negotiable: wide toe box to take advantage of the biomechanics of the foot and allow them to naturally splay, which then allow the toes to naturally push off.

Foot Support and Orthotics

My Advice: Orthotics have a time and a place. Research shows that orthotics can be beneficial during the acute stages and used for a short period of time. (2 weeks up to 1 year). Not for the rest of your life. The muscles in the feet and legs need to be developed to support the body.

Gradually Increase Your Activity Levels After Our Sessions 

My Advice: For those who have recently been injured or are dealing with a plantar fasciitis flare-up, here’s some advice: take a gradual approach when it comes to ramping up your activity levels. Throughout our acupuncture sessions, you’ll become more attuned to how your body responds to varying levels of activity. My recommendation is to steer clear of sudden spikes in intensity and allow your feet to adjust gradually. When you come in for treatment we will take you through a very personalized set of exercises that will help you decrease your pain levels and reach your goals.

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Treat Plantar Fasciitis Properly

When it comes to treating plantar fasciitis, proper diagnosis is key.  No injury has exactly the same cause therefore your treatment should not come out of a box either.  Proper treatment requires a holistic approach combining acupuncture, manual therapy and proper movements to help get things back in order. This approach alleviates the need for massive amounts of pain medication, and it gets straight to the heart of the problem. During our acupuncture sessions, I’m not just masking your symptoms; I’m treating your entire kinetic chain, addressing the root causes of your plantar fasciitis. It’s a direct and whole body approach for long-term relief. 

How Can Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center Help?

For runners dealing with plantar fasciitis, the journey to relief can be tough. But with acupuncture, it gets easier. Plantar fasciitis shouldn’t disrupt your running schedule or daily life, whether you’re a serious runner or just enjoy a jog every now and then.

At Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center, I focus on top-notch diagnostics, acupuncture, and cutting-edge hands-on treatments specifically for plantar fasciitis, though the list of maladies I treat goes way beyond that. Once we’ve eased your pain, I’ll guide you through a practical movement plan to lower the risk of it coming back. We can also go over effective warm-ups and stretches tailored for runners, simple enough to fit into your daily routine – be it at home or on the track.

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What sets me apart from others is that at Acupuncture Pain and Stress Center I’ve created a unique approach over the years, taking your whole body into account and not just looking at the symptoms. Let’s break it down:

  • Discussion: I will investigate the cause of your problem and explain it in simple terms.
  • Assessment: This will reveal the underlying dysfunction(s) and show why you are suffering from your pain.
  • Treatment: I will ease your symptoms quickly using acupuncture and other hands-on techniques that quickly relieve your pain and improve function.
  • Rehab: I will give you simple movements that you easily can fit into your busy day to improve recovery and give lasting relief. Your graduated movement strategy and pain treatments continue as needed to help you build your confidence in your body again so you can quickly get back to thoughtless, fearless, movement. Through this phase of treatment, I can add to the rehabilitation by focusing on specific things like working on speed, agility, flexibility, or strength.
  • Freedom: I plan to make you so happy that you’ll actively tell your friends and family about us. You see, I have built our clinic on word of mouth referrals and I expect my clients to be so happy with the results that they tell their friends and family about me, so they too can get the help they need.

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