After my hernia surgery I was excited to get back to running, a little to excited. I was able to get back to 5km runs within two weeks with tired and weak legs. Deciding to jump from 5km to 8km a couple days later was silly of me and cost me 6 months of recovery.
What I found hard was knowing when to run, my foot would feel OK and the swelling would not be there after a walk. I would go for a run and within the first km I had to stop as my heel would swell like a balloon. Then it would take days to get the swelling down and walking would be brutal. I am writing this hoping to throw some incite into prevention and things that helped me with the recovery.
PF is a is tissue that runs from the base of your foot to your heel. It looks like a string of rubber bands but is actually made of collagen and does not really have much give in the stretch dept. It is when you get tiny tears in you PF that you feel the pain and get swelling.
Prevention and treatment:
PF can be caused by a few things, increase in your mileage to quickly, this is why it is important to take on new distances slowly, try not to exceed 10% increase. If running marathons were easy we would all be doing it. I have read allot of articles about wearing the wrong shoes can cause PF and wearing the correct shoes can prevent PF. I know one barefoot runner who may balk at this suggestion. I think inappropriate shoes could cause your PF to rip/tear. I have a few pairs of shoes that are for looks, running in these would be a bad idea as they offer no room for your foot to bend naturally while running. I personally prefer a shoe with a 4mm drop, it is low enough to land on the front of my foot and my heel still lightly kisses the pavement without any elevation.
Not stretching your calves and feet after a run also can be harmful and instigate your PF. I find after a run if I stand on the edge of my step and drop down to where I feel a stretch but does not hurt for about 30 seconds, I tend not to feel much fatigue in my calves later in the day. Doing simple calf raises while still on the step can help strengthen your feet and calves for further prevention. I usually will pump off twenty or thirty after my run while my calves are still warm.
These stretches helped during my recovery and I still use for prevention.
Other things you can do after a run if you feel any soreness between the front of your foot and where your heel begins is to roll your foot over a golf ball to help massage and alleviate pain. At the first signs of swelling you can roll your foot over a water bottle that has been filled with water and frozen, this feels great. Ibuprofen can also be taken to help get the swelling down, I tended to only take when I had a hard time sleeping due to inflammation of my foot.
Once I was able to run again but still had slight swelling I would wear KT Tape . I still keep a couple rolls on my desk just in case. KT Tape also makes a great blister cover/prevention with new shoes!!
During my research I also came across suggestion like Laser treatment and cortisone injections. There is also experimental injections such as autologous blood injections. I think I will leave these options to professional athletes.
Preventive measures will be wiser in the long end. Remember not to add miles to quickly, I realize lots of us get into running with dreams of doing marathons or maybe you would prefer something more physical like a Touch Mudder or Spartan with aspirations of running Leadville or the Bartley 100. If we do not take care of our feet the only action is what we will see online or on TV. The 6 months I lost trying to get back to 13km runs before surgey, there still out there waiting for a smarter and wiser Junk Mile. I will not disappoint this time.