Thursday, April 25, 2013

Plantar Fasciitis

After a winter spent running in circles at the YMCA (16 laps to the mile on the elevated track), it seems that I’ve acquired a case of plantar fasciitis. This is how describes the condition:

Plantar fasciitis (say "PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus") is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes. It supports the arch of your foot. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk.

There are, I am told, some things that can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis – things of which I must admit guilt.

1. Heel stike. When I run, I land on my heel and roll my foot forward. The “experts” advise that I should shorten my stride and adopt a mid-foot strike. Shortening my stride will definitely make me run slower, and might make me look like a ridiculous. Striking with the mid-foot, on the other hand, sounds awfully similar to what I call running flat-footed. I’m not going to try to change my natural gait. What I will do is make a conscious effort not to land too hard on my heel.

2. Overweight. Who are you calling fat? Sure, I tip the scales at 220 lbs, but at 6’4”, this is 220 lbs of pure muscle (except for the soft part just above the hips)! Last year, I trained for and ran a mid-September marathon. At the Oktoberfest 10K three weeks later, I still qualified to run in the over 220 lb category. I might be carrying some extra weight, but it’s not coming off without taking a lot of muscle with it, and I’m not into being hungry all the time.

3. Worn out shoes. I’ve been running in these shoes since early November. I retired my last pair after the Oktoberfest with over 700 miles on them. My current pair has about 500 miles, but I haven’t worn them for a single race, and the tread still looks good. Those “experts” say that shoes start to lose their cushioning and support after about 300 miles. What’s more, the crushing weight of my massive frame probably counts as an extreme duty cycle.

So what you’re telling me is that, if I want my heel to stop hurting, I have to run like a dork, lose about 30 lbs, and get a new pair of shoes. Maybe I can look at some new shoes.

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