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Running Injuries: How to Recover from Torn Plantar Fascia

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Imagine you are enjoying your morning run in your favorite park and all of sudden you experience unbearable pain in your heel! Can't imagine this scene right? Running injuries can hamper your run easily and you definitely don’t want your running routine to get disrupted. If you have ever experienced this acute pain in one or both your heels, then take this as a warning sign that you might have a torn plantar fascia. 

We understand your plight!

And that’s why in this post we are going to enlighten you about the painful torn plantar fascia. 

What is Plantar Fasciitis

Most people often wonder what is a torn plantar fascia or what are its causes? 

The Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that involves the plantar fascia ligament. This ligament starts at the heel, stretches all along the foot’s length and gradually divides into 5 sections on the toes underside. In the foot of a healthy person, this elasticized band stretches and springs within the normal range of motion.  

Anatomy of plantar fascia
torn plantar fascia

What is the work of ligament?

The main function of this ligament is to offer stability to the arch and assist the first toe efficiently to uphold the weight of the body.

Did you know that your big toe does support a lot of the weight when you are running or walking?

When a person suffers from a partially torn plantar fascia, the majority of the individual’s weight automatically gets transferred on to the second toe that might lead to a bone spur or a painful callus.

It is because of this Plantar Fasciitis that the ligament begins to experience movement far beyond the normal range and that is what results in the inflammation. 

Plantar Fascia Rupture
Plantar Fascia Rupture

The sufferers of Plantar Fasciitis are at the risk of two kinds of injuries mainly:

  • Plantar Fascia Rupture and
  • Torn Plantar Fascia.

To be able to treat it effectively, you would first need to identify its symptoms.

Heel pain is one of the most common torn plantar fascia symptoms and in most of the cases is severe in the morning upon arising from sleep.

As it is with most other ailments and injuries, ruptured or torn plantar fascia can be avoided in most of the cases with preventive care. 

Clinical Presentation

Want to know what patients say about the torn plantar fascia? Well, a torn plantar fascia or a ruptured plantar fascia is quite an uncommon thing but is rather painful. Patients often say that they are experiencing a sharp pain in the foot’s sole. The tearing or the rupturing mostly occurs during some kind of dynamic or athletic activity.

Clinical Representation of Plantar Fascia
Clinical Presentation

If you have had a history of plantar fasciitis or flat feet, you might want to be more cautious. In case you ever have any rupturing or tearing, you would notice that it becomes really complex to walk properly and you might even start limping over-the-time. 

The Aching Plantar Fascia Rupture

Who is more prone to torn plantar fascia?

The rupture of the plantar fascia is most common amongst the athletes, especially among professional runners, athletes and basketball players!

But, that doesn’t mean in any way that it cannot happen to anyone else.

Anyone who indulges in high-impact exercises like jogging can also suffer from this injury.

Other than them, people who have an abnormal gait because of being overweight, wearing improper shoes or due to anomalies in the structure might also suffer. The rupture of the plantar fascia ligament might be signaled by excessive pain in the heel, a popping sound and bruises and swelling on the foot.

In such cases when you have a ruptured plantar fascia, you would be unable to put your full weight on that particular foot.

Troublesome right?

But what can you do about it?

Well, we suggest, seeking medical help is the best thing to do in such situations.

Your doctor might recommend you using crutches and boots for walking and also ask you to rest for a few weeks. 

Once recovered, custom orthotic shoe insert might be recommended to you that are designed to offer support and improve your foot’s mechanics. 

Meet your Physician - Physical Exam

Now that you know about the throbbing pain, what can you do about it?

If you experience excruciating pain in your foot or notice any bruises around your heel, it would be best to consult a doctor who would examine your feet.

With a physical examination, the acute tenderness in the foot’s sole can be identified.

As mentioned, there might initially be some swelling along with a few ruptures which only begin to appear a few days after the rupture.

Also, there might be some noticeable tightness in the calf muscles. All these would be determined by the physical examination and the doctor would ask you to take appropriate measures so as to treat the torn plantar fascia.

In case you opt for X-rays of your foot in case of a torn plantar fascia, it generally would come out normal. However, in case you go for an MRI, it would help in identifying the rupture caused to plantar fascia that might be complete or partial.

There would be traces of edema and increased blood flow in the injured area.

Also, for a better understanding, you must know that the rupture is caused often in the foot’s arch as opposed to what is thought. What people think is the fact that rupture would be caused in the area that is injured.

However, it is not so.

The rupture usually happens where the plantar fascia inserts into the calcaneus or the heel bone. 

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs of Heel Pain

Do you know what most people do when they experience a heel pain?

Well, they end up ignoring their heel pain. It is actually the pain that helps you in understanding that there is something wrong with your body.

And, it can never be safe to ignore the pain no matter in which part it occurs. By taking quick actions, you might actually be able to prevent torn plantar fascia or ruptures.

What is plantar fasciitis
Heel Pain

Ice packs, taking rest for a good amount of time, using an orthotic in your shoes and warming up for sufficient time before running, all might help you to prevent any serious ailments. 

Also, the Plantar Fasciitis shoe inserts also would help you to recover quickly and prevent any kind of serious injuries in the future. 

Best Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis

The basic torn plantar fascia treatment that is recommended to all of the people suffering from it is to stretch their Achilles tendon. This has been thought as to be a rather effective treatment because it removes the tension from the midfoot and thereby alleviates the pain.

Other than this, there are several other treatments that can be beneficial. 

  • At times in case of severe pain and inflammation, injections and medications are also prescribed. 
  • Using ice packs on the heel also seems to work in most cases. You can try anti-inflammatory drugs if you want. Ointments are also available that can be applied to the sore area so as to ease the pain. 
  • A shoe orthotic is prescribed by the doctor in most cases as the plantar fascia is situated in the arch and this shoe provides appropriate support to it. As a preventive measure, wear shoes that have a good shock absorption quality. Shoes that have excellent cushioned soles are also a good choice. Read more on running shoe insoles and get going!
  • Avoid walking barefoot or wearing slippers as that might worsen the pain. 
treatments for torn plantar fascia
Torn Plantar Fascia Treatments

The torn plantar fascia recovery time would depend on the severity of the condition along with how well you take care of your foot. In some cases, it takes up to 12 or more weeks to get completely cured.

The treatment for torn plantar fascia is non-operative.

No surgery is recommended as plantar fasciitis can go away on its own. It has the capability to heal on its own.

Word of caution- Surgeries actually have more risks of scarring than bringing about any actual improvement.

Once the treatment begins, one can stand and walk normally right after a few weeks. But, returning back to running and high-intensity exercises and sports would take a considerable amount of time. 

The tear would begin to heal as long as you do not much stress on the foot and let the body heal itself with time.

For people with severe cases of torn plantar fascia, a lot of effort would go into improving the quality of tissue, eliminate inflammation and decrease any kind of pain. Once this tissue gets healed, the next step is to indulge in therapeutic activities.

Exercises and Stretches for Plantar Fascia

1. Barefoot Kettlebell Swing

The barefoot kettlebell swing is an excellent combination of mobility, endurance and strengthening exercise. When you perform the kettlebell swing barefoot, it would help in strengthening the feet’s small stabilizer muscles.

The bell is quite heavy and its weight would help in developing strength. When you perform a higher number of repetitions, it would help in training the muscles to work efficiently. This is the reason why you would notice most of the athletes performing the kettlebell swing. 

Therapeutic Activities
Barefoot Kettlebell Swing (source)

2. Barefoot Heel Walks and Toe Walks

The heel and toe walks must be performed sideways, backward and forwards with the Carioca.  

Begin slowly and then eventually increase your pace. Ensure that your pace is just average, not too slow neither too fast especially if you are exercising on a rather hard surface. 

torn plantar fascia
Barefoot Heel Walks and Toe Walks

3. Dragging a Sled

As the plantar fascia is stressed through all the movements of planes, it is essential that you focus on training efficiently so as to strengthen your ankle in several planes.

All of the exercises that you choose to perform must be done with varying speeds and different amount of resistance.

So, what is best treatment for plantar fasciitis?

You can consider trying the lateral sled dragging with heavy resistance. 

Torn Plantar Facia Treatment
Dragging a Sled

4. Stretch

Regular calf stretching is one of the most common plantar fasciitis treatment programs.

It should be practiced many times a day, including in the morning. A regular standard routine should be three sets of 30 seconds each three times per day.

You should stretch with first the knee straight and then bent. Calf stretching can also be compared to plantar fascia-specific foot stretching for 10×10 seconds three times a day. A study has found that the advantage of calf stretch is that it recreates the Windlass mechanism, the pulley-like connection between the plantar fascia, heel, Achilles tendon, and calf.

While exercising, never overdo it as your body is in the healing stage. Take rest in between the exercises and do not forget to warm up before you begin.

Remember that everything takes a time to heal.

Additional Treatment Measures

Wearing comfortable shoes with some cushioning and arch support and avoiding hard shoes or anything barefoot can help in recovery from plantar fasciitis.

If your foot is iced several times a day either with ice cups or a round, frozen object like a plastic water bottle, it may help relax the affected area. Icing after running is must in this case.

A low-Dye taping to protect your arch when you walk around or exercise is a good option to keep a check on the plantar fascia. Consider using an orthotic in your every day and running shoes.

Roll out your plantar fascia with a golf ball, but keep in mind not to press too hard on the injured area.

These are some inexpensive and easy methods of treatment. There are also some aggressive treatments that include high cost and low certainty about outcomes.

Some of these are to consider seeing a podiatrist and getting custom orthotics made, or using steroid injections to reduce pain. There is also the option for extracorporeal shockwave therapy or platelet-rich plasma injections for, particularly stubborn cases. However, these should be discussed with a doctor first.

Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint

Night splinting is a treatment that focuses on stretching out the plantar fascia. As the name suggests, a night splint is a device you wear while sleeping which helps in keeping your ankle dorsiflexed.

The first-step pain after you wake up is the patent sign of plantar fasciitis as this first step disrupts the healing process due to the tension put on the arch.

This condition might be cured with the help of night splint. Night splints are available both online and online at a few specialty stores; they are an easier and more practical solution.

Night splints are also available in the form of a sock, which is kind of a regular knee-high sock with a strap that goes from the toes to the kneecap. When this strap is lightly tightened, the ankle is dorsiflexed like a night splint, along with the toes. One thing that you should keep in mind while wearing the night splint is not to put excessive tension on the strap.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Torn Plantar Fascia?

It takes about 12 weeks or a bit more to recover from a torn plantar fascia. During the rest period, if the affected area is not disrupted by re-injury, it repairs at a rate of 20% in 2 weeks, 80% at 6–8 weeks, and 100% at 12 or more weeks. It usually heals naturally, without operating.

Give yourself and your body the right amount of rest that it needs and you would be able to walk and run again in no time.

Just as soon as you feel that you feel that you can walk, do not rush into it or overdo it as that can cause stress and cause more harm.

The key is to remain patient in cases of the torn plantar fascia. Have you ever suffered a torn plantar fascia? If so, did you adopt any other method to treat it? Do feel free to share any tips that might have worked for you.

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