Treadmill running, as opposed to track or road running, typically doesn't increase your risk for plantar fasciitis, unless you consistently use the same incline setting. The California Podiatric Medical Association recommends that you adjust the incline on your treadmill during your workouts. Although running in general puts repeated stress on your heels and feet, you can reduce your risk for heel pain and plantar fasciitis by wearing appropriate shoes and stretching your lower legs before working out.
The plantar fascia connects the heel to the front of the foot and supports your arch. The Mayo Clinic says that an inflamed plantar fascia is a condition called plantar fasciitis. Symptoms include heel pain, most noticeably when you first get up in the morning or after an extended period off your feet. Pain from plantar fasciitis is more likely to cause problems after exercise than during it, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
MedlinePlus identifies long-distance running, uphill running and running on uneven sources as factors in plantar fasciitis risk. Whether you run on a track, trail or a treadmill, repetitive stress on your heel and plantar fascia can cause inflammation. Other possible causes include improper footwear, sudden weight gain or a tight Achilles tendon. Women are more like to experience plantar fasciitis than men, and individuals over age 60 are at increased risk for the condition, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you run on a treadmill, you can decrease your risk for plantar fasciitis by investing in a running shoe that's right for your gait, arch and pronation. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends that you wear poly-cotton-blend socks for running and that you wear them for your shoe fitting to ensure you get the right size. You should also stretch your lower-leg muscles prior to running on the treadmill and follow your cool-down with another 10-minute stretch.
Follow your doctor's advice about exercise limitations during the treatment of plantar fasciitis. You're more likely to get back to your running routine if you rest during the healing process. Plantar fasciitis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine and heel stretching exercises, according to MedlinePlus. Icing the heel for 10 to 15 minutes twice a day may provide relief from associated pain. Wearing a heel cup or orthotic insert can help, as can using a splint during the night.
The quality of your treadmill impacts your foot health. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you examine the belt and deck specifications before purchasing a treadmill. A good deck will flex and absorb shock, providing important protection for your legs and feet. Look for a treadmill with a low-impact deck, a two-ply or thicker belt and at least a 1-inch-thick board.
- California Podiatric Medical Association: Heel Pain Has Many Causes
- Mayo Clinic: Plantar Fasciitis
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
- MedlinePlus: Plantar Fasciitis
- American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine: Foot-Friendly Tips to Prevent Common Running Injuries
- American Council on Exercise: What You Need to Know to Purchase a Treadmill