If you've ever experienced soreness in your arches after a run, you are not alone. Pain on the bottom of the foot, most frequently felt near the arch's insertion into the heel, is also called plantar fasciitis and is quite common. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue connecting your heel to the base of your toes, becomes thickened and irritated. Up to 21 percent of athletes report similar symptoms each year. In addition to after a run, pain may also occur when you first get out of bed or after a long day on your feet.
Causes and Risk Factors
While plantar fasciitis was initially thought to be an inflammatory condition, it is actually due to degeneration of the tissue after overuse. Several risk factors contribute to this. Runners and individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop arch pain. In addition, poor footwear and weakness or tightness in the muscles of your foot and ankle may also play a role.
Gastronomic and Soleus Stretches
Stretching your two calf muscles will improve your ankle mobility and decrease the strain on your arch while you run.
How To: Stand with your feet staggered and your toes pointed toward a wall. Keeping your hind heel on the floor, lean towards the wall until you feel a stretch in the back calf. To stretch your gastrocnemius muscle, keep the hind knee completely straight. Bending the back knee slightly while you stretch will target the soleus instead. Each version should be held for 3 minutes and performed twice daily.
Improving flexibility in the plantar fascia and inner foot muscles can also help eliminate arch soreness
How To: Sit barefoot in a chair and cross one leg over the other. Cup your heel with one hand and use the other to gently pull the foot and big toe upwards toward your lower leg. When a gentle pull is felt in the arch, hold the position for 3 minutes. Do this stretch two times each day.
Using orthotics in your running shoes can be helpful in relieving arch pain and improving your ability to run. Running places a large amount of strain on the joints of your foot. Inserts can be used to provide extra stability and assist the muscles and ligaments responsible for supporting your arch. While all types of orthotics are helpful, there is minimal evidence to suggest that custom orthotics are superior to over-the-counter inserts.
The use of night splints can effectively reduce or resolve pain in the arches. While we sleep, our feet typically point downwards and our achilles tendons shorten. This results in a loss of flexibility while we run. Night splints help prevent this by holding the ankle at a 90 degree angle while you rest. This type of device can be used nightly for one to three months, depending on your symptoms. While many varieties are available for purchase, all are equally effective in treating your plantar fasciitis.
Short Foot Exercises
Short foot exercises strengthen the muscles of the foot that maintain the height in your arch while you run.
How To: Sit with your bare foot resting on the ground. Draw the arch of your foot upwards without curling your toes or moving your knee or hip. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then relax. Repeat three sets of 10 repetitions each day. When this gets easy, the exercise can be progressed by performing it while standing.
If the above steps don't improve your arch soreness, visiting a physical therapist may be helpful. Several different foot and ankle taping patterns can help reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis and improve your function. In addition, soft tissue massage and mobilization techniques can improve the flexibility in your leg or foot. While increasing your weekly running mileage by 10 percent is commonly suggested, your PT can also design a specific running schedule meant to reduce the likelihood that your arch pain returns.
Warnings and Precautions
While soreness in your arch after a run is most commonly due to plantar fasciitis, this is not the only cause. More serious conditions like a stress fracture or a nerve or vascular issue may also be to blame. Pain that does not improve or that is worsening should be reported to your doctor for further workup.