Sunday, 5 January 2014

A focus on form

I've been consulting Dr Google and Nurse YouTube about my not-quite-plantar-fasciitis, looking for different stretches and strengthening exercises to do (as well as looking for - and finding - people who say, 'Of course you can run through it!').  During my searches, I came across a different application of KT tape for arch support, a video by a foot doctor which demonstrated the massage techniques that Adam used on me last week, and advice from Danny Dreyer, Mr Chi Running himself, to walk barefoot on gravel for 5 to 10 minutes.  (This apparently acts as a mini-massage to break up any adhesions in the plantar fascia.  Really.)  I also kept reading about the importance about decreasing both distance and speed while you are healing.  Bummer.

Poppity poppity pop
Still, I am nothing if not sensible.  I have been doing my stretches religiously but last night I also used the cross-friction massage technique; I used it in a much more gentle and tentative way than Adam did but damned if I too didn't feel the bubbles along the plantar tendon that he had quite merrily popped.  So I popped them too.  It didn't exactly hurt but it did make me shiver.  Not quite as much as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard might do, but it was close.  However, whether it's coincidence or not, my arch didn't wake me up in the middle of the night with major aching and cramping.

Today, then, was my long run.  I used the new taping configuration and found it much more comfortable than the previous one, which was so irritating that I stopped in the middle of my 5 mile run on Friday to rip it from my foot.  I'm not enthusiastic about decreasing my long-run distance - I have a half-marathon to train for after all - but I did stick at the 8 miles that I've done for the last two long runs and did drop my pace by 60sec/mile.  It felt like a really, really slow jog but rather than grumble about this to myself for 8 miles, I used the time to focus on my form.

Chi running is big on body sensing, which involves doing a series of scans for any areas of tension or stress in your body and then relaxing them.  Body sensing also helps you to keep track of what your posture is doing and of where your feet are landing.  What I discovered was that, as long as I kept my strides short and my turnover high (as a good Chi runner is meant to do), there was no tension in my ankles and feet at all.  The first sign of a heel strike made my arch tighten; reverting to midfoot striking made it relax.  I also carry a huge amount of tension in my shoulders and neck, and relaxing them also meant that my lower body relaxed too.

So I finished the run - on a beautiful cold, crisp, windless day - with feet that felt relaxed and that certainly weren't hurting.  Even now, almost five hours later, my arch feels okay.  I'm aware of it being a bit stiff but that's about it.  The big test is how it feels in the next 48 hours, but I am cautiously optimistic that I've now turned the corner.

Just to be sure, though, I'll be out walking barefoot along my neighbour's gravel driveway tomorrow.


  1. Well done you! have you done the massage with a golf ball? John's very keen on that as well as the running with no shoes on and I'm quite keen on it too... the golf ball that is not the running with no shoes on!

  2. I've been alternating between a tennis ball and a rolling pin, although maybe I should invest in a golf ball too. It's worth a try!

  3. The golf ball is a perfect size and also harder than a tennis ball. J has the link so email him for itand you can see it in action for yourself. x