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MYTHS BUSTED PLANTAR FASCIITIS

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This injury is common among runners and its potential causes run deep, but there are a few ways to fight back.

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If you've ever had plantar fasciitis, you know that it's something you wouldn't wish upon anyone else. When the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that runs down the middle of your foot and supports your arch, becomes inflamed and/or over-stretched, it causes a stabbing pain along the bottom of your foot, from your heel to your toes. It is often most painful during the first few steps after you get out of bed in the morning. And unfortunately for us, this injury is super common among runners.
"The risk factors for plantar fasciitis are many," says Nike Performance Council Member Lance Walker, MS, PT, global performance director at Michael Johnson Performance (MJP). "They can include things like being overweight, having decreased mobility, stability or flexibility from the neck, down, neuromuscular imbalances and irregular firing patterns of your glutes, to name a few." If you're running with any of these issues, the repetitive impact could potentially work its way down your entire kinetic chain, create tension in the plantar fascia, and eventually turn into an overuse injury.
Seeing as how the causes are widespread, your best chance of steering clear of plantar fasciitis —or any injury, really— is to become a stronger, more balanced, more flexible, more efficient runner (and athlete) in general. And chances are, what that means for you is probably different from what it means for your other running friends.
A good starting point is to analyze your own natural running form and directly address any issues it may be creating for you. "Heel striking at high speeds, for example, could put you at risk for hamstring strains, slow you down, and create shock absorption issues, since your heel is connecting with the ground in front of your body while your shin is going in the opposite direction," says Walker. Landing on your midfoot, on the other hand, could minimize impact, but you also need to do work off-road—in the gym and through non-running drill work—to strengthen your hips, stabilize your pelvis, strengthen and mobilize your ankles and stabilize your arches. Adjusting your form so that you strike with your feet under your hips and have a slight forward lean as you stride could potentially reduce your risk of issues from head to toe.
Another way to minimize the repetitive impact running has on your body, thereby potentially reducing your risk of injury (including plantar fasciitis) is to mix up the types of workouts—and shoes you wear while performing them—regularly. Every run should have a purpose, whether it's building strength, speed or endurance. And likewise, every shoe has a purpose. Within Nike, "Run Long" shoes provide extra cushioning to improve shock absorption and soften landings for your joints when you're going the distance. "Run Fast" shoes naturally give you more of a midfoot strike, which can lessen impact and make you more efficient. And "Run Strong" shoes are designed to help strengthen your feet as you stride. Matching these styles up with the appropriate workouts could set you up for greater success throughout your training.

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QUICK RECAP
Plantar fasciitis is an injury that occurs when the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that runs down the middle of your foot and supports your arch, becomes inflamed and/or over-stretched.
The painful issue can be caused by a variety of risk factors, such as decreased mobility, stability or flexibility.
Becoming a stronger, more balanced, more flexible runner could help prevent plantar fasciitis (and other injuries).
Switching up the type of shoes you wear for different workouts can benefit you as well. "Run Long" shoes provide extra cushioning to improve shock absorption and soften landings for your joints when you're going the distance. "Run Fast" shoes naturally give you more of a midfoot strike, which can lessen impact and make your stride more efficient. And "Run Strong" shoes are designed to help strengthen your feet as you stride.

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