Hi Eric,

I have been dealing with low-level plantar fasciitis for a year or two. It isn't debilitating, but it does seem to be exacerbated by running. This is unacceptable to me, as there is nothing I'd rather do than run through the trails near my home in Northern California. I stopped running for two months (and did a lot of swimming), but it didn't seem to have any real effect. I just signed up for a trail marathon in December (and will likely use your training program), and I was wondering if your training specifically addresses this problem. From BtR, is sounds as if the author had similar issues.

cv: Running off and on for 20 or 25 years (I just turned 50), but only somewhat seriously for the last few years. Two marathons completed; no danger of qualifying for Boston (unless I'm still running the same speed at 70). Would love to run a 50k in the next year or so.

Thanks for creating this forum.

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Comment by Eric Orton on June 22, 2009 at 10:57am
Hi Shawna - I do not like the stretch where you hang your heels off of a steps. This can place too much stress on your achillies and it is not natural to your run mechanics. So I would stick with the lunge style of stretch. But, now that you have the 5fingers, running in these will act as a natural stretch for the calves as well. And always stretch after the run, not before - E
Comment by Shawna Kennedy on June 21, 2009 at 10:22pm
Hi Eric- I most often stretch my calves by finding a step to hang my heels off of and letting gravity help. As a second choice, I use the lunge type of calf stretch. Do you have a particular type of calf stretch to recommend? I'd prefer to avoid PF rather than to treat it.
Comment by Eric Orton on June 18, 2009 at 9:16pm
Hey Clark - Yup, you will have some calf soreness for a little bit, which is also why I feel this will help the PF. You are obviously using them more, which is part of the shock aborption system that is so important - ankle/knees/hips. This I feel also puts your calves "on stretch" while loaded (body weight), therefore, providing more stretching and mobility. Which should ultimately aid in the stretch we talked about above and why I feel Chris experienced instant PF relief from barefoot running.
Since you did your run at the track, you probably ran pretty fast, which may initially cause more soreness....but again, you body will adjust through time.
And, you will love barefoot running much more if you get off that track!! Ouch! Is there a grass infield you can run on??? E
Comment by Clark Kent on June 18, 2009 at 3:48pm
Thanks Thomas and Eric for your comments.
I was also told by a podiatrist that calf stretching is important; I guess it's time to get more religious about it.
Eric, I have tried running barefoot, usually just a quarter mile around a dirt track (time to get some Five Fingers!). Recently I combined that with a four mile track workout concentrating the whole time on midfoot/forefoot strike. My calves were sore for days afterward (muscle fatigue, not injury). Do you find that proper footstrike works the calf muscles more?
Comment by Eric Orton on June 17, 2009 at 10:00pm
Hi Clark - Ah, yes, the dreaded PF. Sorry to hear you are dealing with that, but I hope to have some insight. I really like what Thomas added, as it hits home with my experiences with my athletes and myself. I am sure you have heard "stretch your calves" before, but let me add something very important. You have to continue to stretch the calves until your calf mobility has increased enough to feel your fascia in your heel stretch. This I feel IS the break through. From my experience, it takes about a week of consistent (as many times during the day as possible) calf stretching to get to the point were you can feel the heel stretch. When you get it, you will know immediately. You will be able to feel the PF area that has been so painful actually stretch. It may even burn a little from the fibers being stretched.
While your are getting to this point, it is also helpful to do what I call toes squeezes. All you do is actually squeeze your toes by curling them up. Squeeze and hold as tight as you can almost until the bottom of your foot starts to cramp, and then reverse it, spreading your toes apart as wide as possible....do this back and forth several times a day. Through time you will be able to hold and squeeze harder and harder without cramping and for longer periods of time.
Another angle is running barefoot. I am not sure if you have tried this, but I would highly recommend trying a 10 min barefoot run several times per week on grass. You know how your PF normally feels during a run, compare that feeling with barefooted. Here is some "insider" info. Once Chris finished the book and stopped training with me, his PF came back and he could not beat it. He then did a run barefoot and it went away immediately. Now I wish I could say that will happen to you, but it is worth a try.

Keep us all posted, as I feel many out there will be interested to know how you fair with these recommendations - E
Comment by Thomas Orf on June 17, 2009 at 8:24pm
I'm sure Eric will provide a great answer to this, but I'd like to add from my experience as I've also dealt with this problem. I was told by a great sports doctor in my area that the main reason for PF is tight calf muscles and this can be avoided most of the time if you're stretching properly. He said I'll know if the stretches are working if in two weeks, the pain isn't getting any worse, and may even be decreasing. He also said that this is a slow healing injury, and from the time you're doing everything right, it can take up to 3 months to heal, however I could still run as long as it wasn't getting any worse.
Once I started making sure I stretched my calves very good before and after my runs, the pain decreased, and in a few months, I was fine. As long as I stay stretching, I don't have any problems.

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