It's possible to run with plantar fasciitis. Most runners know the feeling of pushing through pain to log your miles. But is running with heel pain a good idea? 

I'm guessing you know the answer: no! Plantar fasciitis is a condition that develops when irritation hits the ligament that connects the front of your foot to your heel.

Now, with any kind of inflammation, resting is the best way to heal. And if that's not enough convincing for you, let's see what happens if you run with plantar fasciitis.

Is it Safe to Run with Plantar Fasciitis? You can Run with Plantar Fasciitis. Carefully

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. I mean, you can walk on a broken ankle, but you'll worsen that injury. 

The same is true of heel pain. At first, plantar fasciitis pain may be mild. And only show up in bouts, like when you first get out of bed. Now, if you start treating your heel pain at this point, we may be able to come up with a plan to keep running safely. It will include rehab plans that involve stretching, icing and other non-invasive treatments

With this type of program, pain will show up when you start running. But it should fade once you get going, as your muscles loosen up. This is a normal part of taking pressure off your inflamed tendons. And, as long as your pain improves over time, you should be able to keep training.

Keep in mind, you should never increase your speed or mileage if you already have heel pain. Because, if you do, you risk making your pain and injury worse.

And what if your heels hurt the whole time you're running with plantar fasciitis? That's a clear sign it's time to take a break from running. I'll bring you back into the office, and we'll come up with a plant that keeps you active but lets your body heal.

I know it's tempting to skip this step. But I hope you don't. Because running with plantar fasciitis can damage your delicate foot and leg tissue. And increase your risk for more severe injuries.

Preventing Heel Pain After Runs

Of course, it's better to prevent running heel pain than to train with plantar fasciitis. But how can you do that? Well, according to a Harvard University study, it's all got to do with your "vertical load."

Hold up, I'm sure you're asking. What is a vertical load? Basically, it's the amount of force that hits your foot when you run. And, according to the study, the higher your rate, the higher your risk of running injury.

Now, that's true for all running injuries. But it's most true for plantar fasciitis and pain at the front of your knee. Because of that, the study suggests you can reduce your injury risk by reducing your your loading rate. And the best way to do that is with a change in gait. Something we can help you do with a gait analysis and custom orthotics.

Still, changing your loading rate works best for prevention. But how can you keep running if you already have heel pain? Keep reading to find out!

How to Keep Running with Plantar Fasciitis  running with plantar fasciitis

If I clear you to run with heel pain, we'll still need to carefully monitor your training. We'll do this with:

1. Shoes

Your feet need proper arch support when you have plantar fasciitis. Or they'll tug and irritate your tendons. Often, supportive sneakers aren't enough. So if you want to train through heel pain, I'll likely recommend a pair of custom orthotics. To give you that extra support and protection.

2. Stretching

If you hope to keep running with plantar fasciitis, you need to stretch. Every day, and several times each day. Full body stretches are great. But you really need to focus on your calf muscles. That's because tight calves increase plantar fasciitis pain and irritation.

3. Scheduling

Now more than ever, you'll need to include rest days in your training program. And leave time for a proper warmup of at least five minutes. Include active stretches that prepare your body for the impact of running.

4. Hit the Pool

On rest days, cross training can build up muscles that support your plantar fascia. I especially like pool workouts for runners, since they can mimic the motion of running. Without the impact of pavement pounding

5. Practice TLC

At the end of each run (and each day) ice your plantar fascia. You can use an ice pack or ice cubes. But I love keeping a water bottle in the freezer. And rolling feet over it for a 10-minute healing massage.

Through these steps, you should be able to keep running without worse pain. But if your symptoms get worse, we'll have to start more invasive treatment. And talk about taking a break from running.

Treating Plantar Fasciitis

A simple night splint can offer plantar fasciitis pain relief

If your heel pain doesn't clear up in a few days, we'll come up with a more extensive treatment plan. 

I'll add more stretches to your daily routine, helping target your Achilles tendon. I may recommend a night splint, to keep your tendons from tightening while you sleep. This should help you avoid that pain when you first get out of bed in the morning.

Daily anti-inflammatory medications can also reduce your pain and inflammation. But if your pain still won't clear up, we can also explore immobilization (a walking boot). In some case, we can offer corticosteroid injections. This will only work if your Achilles tendon isn't involved, since injections in this area could be dangerous.

Luckily, most patients fully recover from plantar fasciitis within three months. In rare cases, symptoms last longer. At that point, we may explore more invasive treatment options. 


Final Thoughts on Running with Plantar Fasciitis

Running with mild heel pain is possible. If you talk to your podiatrist and take proper precautions. If you aren't careful, though, you could cause more pain if you run with plantar fasciitis. 

For that reason, you need to come see me at the first sign of heel pain. I can diagnose your condition and come up with a proper treatment plan. It will help you stay active. But it will do so in a way that will prevent your injury from progressing. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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