Sunday, 5 June 2011


Having decided to take it easy on all fronts (well, diet and running anyway), I seem to be in a better place mentally and more in control of eating.

Yesterday I was happily active, got lots done and whilst my diet included the rare treat of a Chinese takeaway, two of the overhyped Oreo biscuits and two pain au chocolat, there was no binge and far more controlled choices.

Result eh?

Interestingly though, my achillies still felt sore from just walking and carrying yesterday and both heels felt sore. In the past a physio had said I had a touch of plantar fasciitis (which I'll shorten to PF from now) but it didn't really cause a problem and faded away again, but I decided to look it up last night.

Digressing slightly, Googling that sort of thing isn't too reliable. A number of (generally American) websites purport to give information but are essentially barely disguised marketing tools for specific insoles and are a little misleading as a result. The information from universities (also generally US) seems far more even handed and gives a different 'weighting' to both causes and treatment.

Not sure if the achillies is related but I suspect it might well be.

You see, I've been trying to work out what might have triggered the injury. Its chronic rather than acute and there was no 'incident' to set things off but neither was there a sudden increase in training mileage; sudden change in terrain, sudden increase in length of runs, or change of footwear. There were none of the triggers that explain a chronic injury's onset.

Or so I thought.

I'd recognised that the recent hefty weight gain would make runs feel harder and that it could make a small contribution to tiredness and knotting of muscles but last night's research suggests rather more than that.

It seems weight is a major factor for PF. This is particularly true for the obese (which I'm obviously not) but several sites list a common cause as 'sudden weight gain'. The fascia operates to raise the arch with every step and is loaded each time with a pressure of double our body weight, so a sudden gain of 20lb means every step adds an extra 40lb of pressure on the fascia - effectively a sudden ramping up of training workload.

Bingo! There's the trigger.

I still don't know if the achillies is linked or not - not directly as its not a PF symptom - but I now suspect the trigger is the same. Its not the weight I'm at, its the speed at which I got here.

Bad news is that it can last for months or even years. Good news is that losing weight and appropriate stretching, allied with NSAIDs, ice and rest in the early stages can help speed things up.

Good news, is that when I think back to last year there were two times when I had heel and/or achillies pain and both matched to periods of weight gain. Whilst neither seemed as prolonged or painful as this, they both were brought back under control.

I won't even try to run until at least next weekend, and as and when I do it will be a very short very slow run. In the meantime I'm popping the drugs and doing the stretches. At the gym may stick to the bike in order to keep weight off my feet.

What I'm not doing is hurtling straight into a knee jerk, super fast weight loss regime. For today at least I'm happy just to feel control. In the coming days I'll go with trying for some form of defecit as this is evidently a big part of the cure but it wont be pressured or dramatic.


ursus said...

I suffered with plantar fasciitis back in 2006, having binged my way up from an anorexic weight to a BMI of 25+ in the space of about 12 months. Hmmm - fun times :-(. But my Dad had PF a couple of years ago without any noticeable weight gain (but probably an increase in the amount of walking he did once he retired).

It seems a long time ago now but mine gradually disappeared over a couple of months once my weight gain plateaued off. I found that stretching helped (I found a plantarfascia stretch in "The Complete Guide to Stretching" by Christopher Norris but I'm sure the interwebs will also provide suitable instructions). Running made it worse, sorry! My Dad was advised to roll a baked bean can (or similar!) on the floor under his foot (I hope that description made sense) when he got up in the morning - I guess that kind of massages the plantarfascia - sounds like a good idea.

Anyhow, good luck and much sympathy - I feel your pain!

BabyWilt said...

2 Oreos only, oh the restraint :-)

As far as planter fascitis weight has proved a major factor for hubby as well. He's never suffered and since starting up an exercise regime has had constant PF pain that just doesn't go away. Last night he blatantly admitted that to loose 10kgs would go a LONG way to helping. Here's hoping his December climb up Kilimanjaro goes well with a 10kg loss.

Alison said...

"What I'm not doing is hurtling straight into a knee jerk, super fast weight loss regime. For today at least I'm happy just to feel control."

That's so great to read! As is the report that you are just happily active, rather than feeling any pressure to launch into a formal / structured training regime. I think the focus on programmes that build in weekly progressions, like marathon training, can have the unfortunate effect of narrowing our perspective, even once we're done with that programme. Like you say, there's actually no reason to try and fix this Right. Now! Do it slowly alongside taking care of other, contributing factors like your attitude to food.

Also, thanks very much for the info on trail shoes -- very helpful! I'm going to have to digest that, but no doubt I'll be pestering with more questions as soon as I have done!

~Jessica~ said...

Rapid weight gain? Crud, that's another injury that will be plaguing me shortly then.

Quite a few of the coaches at my gym have suffered from PF because they spend so much time on their feet. Only one was a runner but she managed to recover quite quickly (and she didn't even rest it properly!) so hopefully there will be a speedy recovery for you too.

I admire how you're dealing with this a lot, and it's fantastic that you're in a peaceful and controlled place with food despite this injury setback.

Thanks for your kind reassurances about poor Min.


Maria said...

That is interesting that you have managed to link it to being heavier, but I suppose it does make sense.
And I am glad you are being sensible, taking time off running and eating sensibly- no crash diets. And the Aha made me think there would be some kind of Alan partridge joke- is that just me?

Rose said...

Sounds like your head is in a good place Rob which is the most important thing of all.

Bookmark this post for yourself so that when you are having a bad day you can come back and read it and remind yourself how good it felt


Rose said...

How is it going now Rob? How is the achilles? Are you getting any running done?