Plantar fasciitis. The mere whisper of these words will make a runner tremble. Maybe you think runners are too delicate and fragile.
How about Eli Manning? He’s a tough football player. Yes, but he’s a quarterback.
Okay, how about the Chargers’ tight end Antonio Gates? He’s a big tough dude and plantar fasciitis limited his playing in the 2010 season and persisted into the 2011 season.
What is plantar fasciitis? Here’s a description from heel-that-pain.com:
“Plantar Fasciitis is a serious, painful, and progressing illness that occurs when the long, flat ligament along the bottom of the foot develops tears and inflammation. Serious cases of plantar fasciitis can possibly lead to ruptures in the ligament. This ligament is called the plantar fascia and it extends your five toes and runs along the bottom of your foot, attaching to your heel. When you walk or run, you land on your heel and raise yourself on your toes as you shift your weight to your other foot, causing all your weight to be held up by your plantar fascia. Such repetitive force can pull the fascia from its attachment on your heel and cause damage and plantar fasciitis.“
I’m not qualified in any formal way to make any diagnosis or recommend any treatment but I’m going to do it anyway.
Here’s the sticking point for me in the explanation above, “When you walk or run, you land on your heel and raise yourself...”
Woh, woh, woh. Hold on a second. When you walk or run you land on your heel? Walk yes. Run no. Do not ever, should you run for a thousand miles, land on your heels when you run.
The thousand mile thing is an exaggeration because you’d never make it landing on your heels.
What’s the issue with the heels? Landing on our heels when we run isn’t how our bodies naturally work.
Right now go stand on a chair in your kitchen and jump off it. Go. Do it.
Did you land our heels? No, you landed on the pad of your foot and your entire muscular skeletal frame absorbed the impact with no effort. You could do this over and over again and never injure yourself.
How many times could you do this if you landed on your heels each time? How long until you jammed your femurs right up through your hip sockets? How long until the round surface of the heel betrayed you and you rolled an ankle?
This is exactly what happens when we run and heel strike. It is an injury waiting to happen.
Could the demon known as plantar fasciitis be yet another common injury which exists because of our shoeing habits?
Believe it or not this is going to take us back to ChiRunning.