For a competitive athlete or even a fitness runner, returning to running after injury is a big deal.
Fortunately for us, the University of Wisconsin Physical Therapy department has come up with a recommended program for returning to running. This program, is what I'm going to follow for the next four weeks, following treatment for plantar fasciitis.
My brief history with plantar fasciitis: In July, 2010 I noticed my feet hurting first thing in the morning. I knew that was a sign of plantar fasciitis, but since I wasn't running, I didn't even consider plantar fasciitis. What felt like stiffness, I attributed to arthritis. A podiatrist gave me the plantar fasciitis diagnosis, however, and we started physical therapy and treatment. Over the course of three years, I tried everything from custom orthotics, graston, steroid patches, massage therapy,rest, ice, stretching and strengthening. When traditional methods didn't work, I even tried the extreme of running barefoot. Cortisone shots in my heels provided the only relief I had, even if only for 3-6 months. In the fall of 2013, I decided to contact a foot clinic in Chicago that had treated Chicago's best athletes including Walter Peyton (Bears) and Frank Thomas (White Sox). In February, 2014, I had a treatment called Topaz. This procedure pokes approximately 36 tiny holes localized in each heel and uses a radio frequency at various depths through the thick part of the fascia via a tiny wand in each hole. Finally, my own platelets were injected into the heel to spur new, good tissue growth. The purpose of this procedure is to break up existing scar tissue and create inflammation; in other words, a whole new case of plantar fasciitis, which would be treated from the beginning with rest, ice, orthotics and stretching. I'm four weeks out, and I'm happy to report that I'm feeling less pain in the mornings. There is still some tenderness at the site of the procedure, but in general, the symptoms of plantar fasciitis are subsiding. I have received the go-ahead to start weight bearing exercises including walking, hiking and running. My doctor recommended the Return to Running Program from the University of Wisconsin.Do you think you have plantar fasciitis? Here's a great handout from University of Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the link to the complete program on the University's website, however, I was able to find it in another format. I have reproduced it here. Once your doctor clears you for running, or can walk for 30 minutes without pain or additional injury, you might be able to try running. (Please check with your doctor, as everyone's condition is unique to them.) You may continue running as long as you do not experience any sharp pain, your pain does not increase, and/or your normal pattern of walking (i.e. no limping) is not compromised.
Let me know if you have any questions about plantar fasciitis or this program.