Plantar fasciitis can sideline runners for months if you fail to take symptoms seriously.
Fortunately, if you recognize the signs early and apply the appropriate treatment, it won’t be long before you can begin running again.
Find out when to start running after plantar fasciitis and get back to the sport you love.
Plantar Fasciitis Prevention
For any serious health condition, it’s better to aim for prevention rather than treatment. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis. For runners, plantar fasciitis has the potential to sideline you for months or longer, making prevention a priority.
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, the ligament which runs on the underside of your foot from heel to toe. It can become inflamed and painful from overexertion, whether that’s during mild activities like walking or more demanding ones like running.
According to a Sports Medicine article, common indicators that predispose runners to plantar fasciitis are excessive pronation, extremely high arches or flat feet, tight Achilles tendons, inadequate training shoes, and technique errors.
Ideally, runners should try to prevent plantar fasciitis by wearing supportive footwear that suits their body mechanics, stretching correctly before running, and using correct technique when running.
However, it’s not always possible to prevent plantar fasciitis, especially if you had never heard of it until receiving a diagnosis.
How to Recognize Plantar Fasciitis Early
The earlier you start treatment, the higher the odds that you’ll recover completely. That means that recognizing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis is vital to ensuring you begin timely treatment. For most athletes, the first indicator of strain in the plantar fascia is heel pain.
If you notice heel pain when you first wake up in the morning or immediately after a run, this could be a sign of early plantar fasciitis. Sufferers of plantar fasciitis often report a dull, aching, burning, or tingling pain in one or both of their heels.
Stretching before a workout or when you get up in the morning may alleviate the plantar fascia pain, but if it doesn’t, taking steps to minimize your risk of further pain is critical. This is the time to look at what type of running shoes you wear and what support they offer to determine whether the fit is correct.
How Long Does Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Take?
The longer your plantar fasciitis continues unchecked, the more treatment you will require. Runners who ignore mild heel pain until it becomes too painful to withstand may face a more extended period of treatment and recovery than those who notice and address it early.
If you begin stretching and applying ice to your heels at the onset of symptoms, you may avoid worsening pain over time. In fact, in this video, Dr. Eric Berg claims that extending the muscle opposite the plantar fascia, the anterior tibialis, is the “instant cure” for plantar fasciitis.
However effective stretching is, though, it doesn’t mean that you can cure plantar fasciitis by performing a stretch one time.
American Family Physician notes that treatment often takes between six and 18 months. Further, one study suggested that rest helped relieved symptoms in 25 percent of patients. This is a strict treatment plan for runners to follow, but rest often aids recovery better than any other method.
However, the need for rest doesn’t always mean you have to stop all physical activity. You may choose to perform other exercises while recovering from a running injury to maintain strength and your active routine.
Keep in mind that rest is the most conservative type of treatment for plantar fasciitis but skipping it may result in more intensive methods of therapeutic pain relief.
Stretching the plantar fascia and developing strength in the muscles surrounding it is the first step in nonsurgical treatment. Stretching daily can keep pain from getting worse, while orthotics, night splints, and anti-inflammatories like ice, NSAIDs, and even cortisone injections are helpful for severe pain.
Ultimately, surgery is a last resort for people who cannot find pain relief through conventional methods. Surgery has its own set of risks and potential complications, plus an extended recovery period that require strict rest periods and even pain medication.
When to Start Running After Plantar Fasciitis
Most runners are reluctant to face a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis because they do not want to stop running. Still, a short break to recover at the onset of plantar fasciitis is preferable to prolonged pain and even surgery as the condition worsens.
That said, if you want to know when to start running after plantar fasciitis, it will depend on how severe your condition is and what treatment you are undergoing.
When to Start Running After Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
If you begin stretching and taking sufficient rest periods at the onset of plantar fasciitis symptoms, you may feel better in a few days and be able to run without pain. If stretching doesn’t help, however, you’ll need to move on to other methods of improving the condition.
The Journal of Research in Medical Sciences suggests that patients who experience symptoms of plantar fasciitis for longer than six months should use night splints for at least 1 to 3 months as part of their treatment.
While we need more studies to determine the effectiveness of long-term orthotic insert use, short-term use of orthoses over a 3-month period shows potential for pain reduction and improved function.
However, many runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis report exceptional results from wearing orthotics in their running shoes. This could be a result of correcting high or low arches, pronation, or other positioning problems, which are another contributing factor in plantar fasciitis problems.
When to Start Running After Plantar Fasciitis Surgery
If you have severe plantar fasciitis pain that does not respond to conventional treatment methods, your doctor may recommend surgery. Plantar fascia release surgery requires a 6- to 10-week recovery period before you can even walk, so running will have to wait even longer.
Your doctor may release you to begin running again around three months after plantar fascia release surgery, but you’ll have to start slow and will likely need positioning orthotics to stabilize your feet. That said, nonsurgical methods may take longer to create results, but the recovery period is substantially shorter.