Plantar fasciitis makes you grateful and very thankful that you have the physical ability to run, lift (somewhat) heavy things, and move through almost any natural pattern without pain. Because plantar fasciitis seemingly comes from nowhere, and apparently goes away of its own accord.
However, on my first day of what I’m calling “plantar fasciitis (PF) recovery” I am just thankful. I am thankful that I learned to swim well enough to get a decent workout in the pool and develop some cardiovascular fitness. I am thankful that I can still do enough lifting to keep my weight stable and still look strong. I am also thankful I have good insurance and can see the doctor.
You see, the most important thing for PF, I’m realizing, is rest. A lot of it. Preferably no running. So every time I complain to myself I can’t run, I remember how thankful I am for the fact that running is still in my future.
But yes, the most important thing for PF, at least for me, is rest. A lot of it. I haven’t run pain-free (afterwards) for nearly 3 months now. This is probably because I never gave my foot the rest it needed to recover. Each time I would feel my PF getting better (after 2 or 3 days of no running and swimming/weights as my cross-training–sometimes as much as a week), I would go run. The run would feel awesome, but the rest of the workday and when I wake up my foot would be incredibly painful. I would always be tempted to run after it feels even a bit better, but after calling the doctor’s office, two visits, and a referral to the podiatrist, I am now accepting the fact I need to submit to extended rest. At least 4 weeks of it.
This is because the podiatrist made me (can I say that?) take a cortisone shot. Let me tell you, that thing is amazing. Instantly pain free, for me (especially since my PF was feeling better after taking a week off before the podiatrist). When I say instant, I mean once he took the needle out, it was as if my PF was normal again.
However, if you have PF and you get a cortisone shot, by no means or under no circumstances run on your foot–not even if you’re going to miss your train to work!
This was what was going through my mind yesterday and this morning while I was thinking about all this. A quick Google search will reveal how controversial the cortisone shot is in the running community. Some say absolutely not unless you are seriously considering surgery. Others say there’s nothing at all to worry about. The main two side effects that other runners have reported experiencing are complete rupture of the PF and/or fat pat atrophy. However, reading some of the critical reviews you can find on PubMed, you come away with the impression that a good portion of this is due to two things: poor administration of the cortisone and continuing to exercise during the healing period. I have read that the most critical time after the cortisone shot is 2-3 days after administration. It is during this time that the short-term cortisone makes the tendons the weakest, and so if you run while the foot feels amazing after the cortisone (and it feels truly amazing!), you are at the very least risking long-term chronic PF injury, and complete PF rupture at the worst.
Therein lies the rub. To most athletes, let alone running, the cortisone shot would make a return to full activity so tempting. In my reading it seems a lot of us have gotten into this trouble because we are pushing the envelope in the first place and trying to prepare for a goal race or competition. Once PF hits, whatever goals one may have had must certainly be revised. But who wants to lose fitness during a training cycle? Once you have the cortisone, it can be incredibly difficult to resist a workout. Especially if your foot feels amazing like mine does. Don’t risk it. You won’t feel the damage, but damage will certainly be done. When the cortisone wears off, oh boy…
That’s the weirdest part of all this. My foot feels amazing, but I know it’s not healthy. I’ve read enough to know not to mess with this so early on. So it feels like my mind is playing tricks on me because I still act as if it is delicate, but there is absolutely no pain. My worst nightmare is if something I do now makes it much worse since I’ll have no immediate feedback until much later after the damage.
Anyways, I guess the short of it all for day 1 is: cortisone is an absolutely beautiful thing. I believe there will be no horror stories on the other side. And, yes, I will take the 4 weeks off. The horror stories of runners who’ve pushed through on the cortisone are very persuasive! I won’t be adding to the list.
For day 2, I’ll describe my cross-training and some of the exercises I believe were making a big difference over the first week before the shot. I’m taking a break from them until after the third day post-shot, but my foot was feeling a great deal better and so I think they were doing something for me.
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