Friday, May 09, 2008

Relieving Plantar Fasciitis or "Runner's Heels"

In 2007, due to bonehead use of old shoes in a race, I developed plantar fasciitis or "Runner's Heels". Plantar's is most often caused by tight calves straining their final muscle tendon connections just ahead of the heel in the instep area.  Running lots of hills can bring plantars on. The fiberous tissue there can get damaged and easily inflamed. They are most painful first thing in the morning.

What can you do?
  1. Stretch calves and achilles gently
  2. I also use "The Stick", a set of plastic roller on a stick to massage the calves
  3. Get a good pair of insoles for your running shoes, throw out the junk that comes in them especially if you have high arches as I do. Properly supporting the instep is one of the keys to relieving plantars.  I have used the heat moldable Sole Dean Karzanes model, and while a bit heavy in running shoes,  are also great in ski boots and day to day shoes where they also belong. Lately, after finding them in my Atomic nordic boots, no junk there,  I have been using Sidas insoles. They are not heat moldable but lighter and more flexible.  I prefer them to the Soles but apart from Wasatch Running Center in Salt Lake where I found them in the store I have not been able to find them online in the US. An alternative which looks similar is the ShockDoctor Ultra 2 which is available online. I have not tried these.
  4. Don't walk barefoot until your plantars is better
  5. Use a "splint" on your feet when you sleep and also when you walk around. I have tried the more elaborate and over a period of time painful Strassburg "sock" but found myself waking up in discomfort. You also can really only wear the sock or other splints when you are sitting or sleeping.
  6. I found that the much simpler Pro-Tec Athletics Arch Support which I get at REI can be worn all the time. I do not wear them running as they take up a bit to much room in tighter fitting running shoes.
  7. While running I also sometimes wear the compression socks mentioned earlier in my blog as they increase blood flow to the lower legs. These socks do reduce calf soreness and help recovery.
  8. Finally, on a trail run last year when my heels were at their worst I ran into a fellow runner complete with Tour du Mont Blanc 100 mile race T-shirt. He swore by Capsasin cream on the heel and instep to increase circulation to that fiberous material. It helps but be sure to completely wash your hands after applying as the cayenne pepper  can really sting the eyes.

Pearl Izumi Float 2-Guest review by Fasteddie

My Utah running partner Fasteddie sent me this review of the Pearl Izumi Float 2 running shoe.
Fasteddie is a late bloomer. In his forties a doctor told him to stop basketball and get an operation on his knees and ankles. He ignored the advice and took up running. 49 marathons later, mostly Boston qualifiers, he is the picture of consistency in pace and equipment.

When Nike completely changed the Pegasus and he was no longer able to find the 05 model on line he turned to the Pearls. I also run in the Synchro Seek 2 trail runner from Pearl. A bit heavy but very protective on tough trails.

Fasteddie's Float 2 Review

Took them out for a test run this am, no orthodics after purchase at the SLC half this weekend. Wowie!
They run a bit LARGE to size, I’m a solid 11 ½ and could prolly go an 11 in thin socks. The 11 ½’s easily take my bargain basement $8.00 Dr. Scholl’s heel/arch supports.
What a shoe. Slipper Design is sooo comfy. No seams! And, the heel absorbs shock without mushyness, so there is great heel strike cushion along with stability. They have also wound hard plastic into the heel for stability with cushioning, with two passes on the inside heel. The Holy grail of heel strikers.
The mid section flexes just enough to allow rotation without correction, unlike the way most manufacturers have beefed up support. These therefore allow flexing throughout the range of motion. (Compared to the NEW Pegasus, which is now a motion control shoe with an old moniker of a previous thoroughbred) This allows the foot to strike the pavement and absorb shock with force and control, but not sacrifice road feel. Basically, let ‘er rip.
Forefoot also flexes but again is stable with a closed cell foam pad, and two deep grooves embedded in the forefoot sole, giving the shoe an even flex in front of the midsole, another sorely lacking feature in the ever more supported shoe building culture of late, whereby most shoe builders add a stiff shank and only some flexibility at the toes, necessitating a more pronounced effort to push off. These shoes FLOAT on push off. They remind me of another great shoe of about 12 years ago, the Asics DS trainer with a nippled sole, that eventually suffered the similar fate of Pegasus, in a bid for mediocrity and middle of the pack marketing; over stiffening.


Forefoot box seems a bit wide, but slipper design pulls up the slack, and a thicker sock or smaller size may mitigate. Also, they aren’t broken in yet with my foot imprint. They should get more comfortable than their already acceptable out of box feel. They do run big. However, front toe tip gives ample room. Still haven’t tested on steep downhill to check slip and toe bang, if any, but slipper design should mitigate such. Open heel design just may be an issue for small rocks on trail, but these are really a street/light trail cruiser anyways with great road feel, cushioning, and shock dispersion.

Friday, February 01, 2008

OR-Enlyten Electrolyte Strips

One of the most intriguing and smallest products at OR were Enlyten Sports Strips. I prefer to drink water on the run but know I need electrolytes especially on a long hot run. I really like the portability.

Enlyten Strips are very small,  dissolvable strips you place between your cheek  and gum. Enlyten sponsored research  claims  electrolytes are thought to get into the blood stream faster through the buccal area (5 minutes) than through the gastric and intestinal channel (30 minutes). Great to stop fast on coming cramps. 

 3-6 strips before your workout and then 2-4 per hour during exercise, then 3-6 post exercise. They are tasty and dissolve within about a minute or so. Robert Radoff, the National Sales Manager explained that his somewhat slower (than say a Listerine strip) dissolve insures the electrolytes have a chance to be absorbed and not wasted.

The strips are in use by several NFL teams as well numerous college and high school teams.

Word of caution. A fresh cassette is packed tight so if you plan to use during a race make sure you consume the first 3 or 4 before the race. 

OR-CEP Sports Compression Socks

As an aging but striving to go fast runner I am always intrigued by gear which holds the promise of improving performance.  

Compression socks are now showing up on top tri-athletes and world class marathoners such as Paula Radcliffe, the world marathon record holder. At OR I ran into a German company CEP Sports introducing a compression sock which research has shown may improve performance in endurance events. OK these knee high socks are a bit goofy but in the 2 runs to date in a sample I have found them incredible comfortable and soothing on the lower legs.

The company's testing at a German institute has shown that time under load=running time in a staged test was approximately 5% higher than with normal socks. Maximal VO2 consumption increased by 3%. Circulation in the lower leg increased by 30-40%.  I think this increased circulation should help my plantar heels as circulation is known to help the condition. As I nordic ski I found the increased circulation and thus warmer lower legs particularly promising. Models exist for alpine skiing where I can also see the utility. 

 CEP recommends leaving the socks on for half an hour after workouts to help with recovery. 

Other compression socks exist  but CEP claims their consistent circular pressure and medical grade materials and construction make for a more effective and longer lasting sock. The company is just introducing the product in the US and is in limited distribution. From the CEP website dealer list I see they are available through Hannulink Tri-Gear. They are pricey at $59.90. Other compression sock companies include SLS3 and Oxysox.