[Product Review] Recover App – Injury Prevention For Middle Age Athletes

[Product Review] Recover App – Injury Prevention For Middle Age Athletes


An app that actually helps runners live healthier lives

I recently stumbled upon a new and unique tool designed to address one of the biggest challenges faced by many runners. Injuries are problematic for runner’s of all ages, especially middle age athletes. The founders of Recover Athletics have just launched an app that provides customized recovery and pre-hab plans for runners of all abilities. I reached out to the team, including CEO, Nick Stewart and asked if I could take the app for a “test spin.”  

In this article, I provide a thorough review of the Recover App. 

Recover Athletics is the first performance recovery platform for endurance runners. Their goal is to help runners manage and proactively prevent overuse injuries. 

Their website consists of the gateway to primary product, the Recovery App, which I review below. They also have a blog with detailed articles focused on running and injury prevention. They host the Run Healthy Podcast.  The latest episode is an interview with 2020 Olympic Marathoner Qualifier, Molly Seidel (a Notre Dame Alum like myself). 

Once your profile is created, the app walks you through a series of questions to gather data on the extent of any current injuries or nagging pains. The app actually asks “What’s Sore Today.


The app also integrates with Strava or allows for manual input of weekly mileage, pace and duration of workouts. One of the goals of the app is to use AI to provide users with custom pre-hab or recovery plans. These routines are professionally developed by medical professionals from Massachusetts General Hospital.

  1. Next you can create a “Recovery” for your specific injury or weakness.
  2. Recoveries consist of set of 6-7 specific exercises that address your issue.
  3. The app contains 100+ exercises for runners
  4. The goal is to use your “Recovery” routines to recover and stay injury free
  5. You can set up a daily recovery reminder for a specific time and days of the week.

In my case, Plantar Fasciitis has been a problem for the last 10 months.  I’m at the back end of the injury, so I followed the prompts to create a Plantar Fascia Recovery.  The app generated a 6 exercise x 10 minute recovery that’s comprised of various stretches and strength exercises.

Below is a screenshot of my Plantar Fascia Recovery

The recovery begins when the user clicks on the start button. Next you simply complete the exercises as directed by the app.  Easy to follow directions are provided for each exercise. The videos are clear and the underlying benefits for runners of each exercise are discussed. 

Each time you sign on the app, it will connect with Strava to gather your latest workouts or if you don’t use Strava, you will be asked about your weekly mileage.  The app will ask you to rate the pain from your current injury. 

Based on the input provided, the app generates an “Insights” graph that monitors your training, recovery and soreness over time.  You can then break down trends of your recovery over a set period of time, as well as supplement your routines with stretches and other useful post-recovery tips. As you can see in the screenshot below, my mileage has been limited, but the soreness of my injury has declined over the last month.

Another app feature, if you allow, is occasional “push notifications” that appear on your phone. I’ve only seen a few, so you don’t think you will feel harassed (like some social media notifications).  One was notification of the Molly Seidel podcast.

The paid version of the app allows users to create additional recoveries.  This is useful if you had some weaknesses, such as hip or glutes that often contribute to injuries.  

If you need a proven periodized marathon training plan or affordable coaching where I use these principles of periodization training to prepare you for your next race? Train with me where I provide a CUSTOM EXPERIENCE based on your specific situation.

I also created a glute recovery that consists of a combination of 6 stretch & strength exercises.  Since glute weakness and hip instability are often root causes of many lower body injuries, this recovery is particularly beneficial.

Recovery App Studio

In my opinion, the best feature of the Recover app is with the Studio.  This is a collection of your personalized recovery routines, as well as specific strengthening & mobility routines. Similar to the recovery routines, the strengthening & mobility routines are very targeted and include detailed video instruction for a set of 6-7 stretches and strength exercises.  The mobility sequence includes:

  1. Marathoner’s recovery bible
  2. Cool down essentials
  3. Roll out and & get loose

The Strengthening sequence is very comprehensive, comprised of 14 different routines, including :

  1. Hardcore core
  2. It’s all in the hips
  3. We love resistance bands
  4. The marathon prepper
  5. Going couch to 5k
  6. Run for Health
  7. Runner’s daily strengthening

I completed a couple of the routines, including the “It’s all in the hips” and “Runner’s daily strengthening” routine.  I found the instructions are excellent and easy to follow. I really like the explanations of the benefits gained by completing each exercise.  Another nice feature is that each routine includes a modify option where you can see how to make the exercise easier or harder.  I’ve placed a few photos below of me working out using app.

As a coach, I think the app has a lot of value.  I coach people of varying abilities with different goals and challenges. If they are injured or feel some pain coming on, I can now use the app to suggest a specific recovery.  My plans include numerous conditioning/strength training routines which I can now modify and assign directly from the app. 

Overall Assessment: 5/5

Overall, I’m a big fan of the recover app and plan and recommend it. It’s informative and easy to use. It’s great for runners of all abilities and ages. Consistency in training and remaining injury free is essential if you want to reach your goals. This app allows runners to recover the wear and tear of long distance training.  Being able to customize your routines based on specific input allows you to minimize your risk of injury. 

I think that having access to a suite of professionally developed strengthening exercises and stretches that are targeted to specific parts of your body is a huge win.  The exercises included in each routine only take minutes to complete.

At this time, the Recover app is available for iOS in the Apple app store. There’s a free version which provides a single recovery.  The paid version ($2.99/month or $24.99/year) allows access to the entire suite of studio routines and multiple personalized routines.  With plans to add routines to the Studio throughout the year, the annual subscription is a good value.

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Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix


When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. Middleagemarathoner does not accept money for editorial gear reviews.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in intended as a reference only, not a medical manual . The information provided herein is designed to help you make informed decisions about your health. It is not intended as a substitute for any treatment that may have been prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist. If you suspect that you have a medical problem, we urge you to seek competent medical help.

Glutes are arguably the most important muscle group for runners. Unfortunately, they are also the most neglected in terms of maintenance and strength. Studies link glute weakness to achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and many other common injuries.

If your glutes are so important and their weakness contributes to many injuries, why are they neglected?  Simply put, most athletes of all ages are unaware of the role their glutes play in their running performance. The goal of this article is to create a better awareness of the function of glutes for runners, what causes glute weakness or imbalance, how to identify if you have a problem and how to stretch & strengthen your glutes.


Your gluteus maximus is your butt, the two smaller glute muscles (called glutes) are located on the side of your butt, near and slightly above your hip joint. When we run, the glutes’ job is to hold our pelvis level and steady. Glutes are also responsible for hip extension, so the stronger your glutes, the more power in your stride.  The more power in your stride, the faster you can run. 

Since the other key role of glutes for runners is providing stability for the pelvis and knees and keeping our legs, pelvis and torso aligned. If you have strong glutes, side-to-side motion will be limited and you will be a more efficient runner because your energy is directed forward. Basically you can faster at the same effort level.

Also, when the glutes aren’t working properly, some of the impact forces are transmitted elsewhere down the legs. It’s common for many runners to have strong abs and back muscles but weak glutes.

How does this Glute dysfunction occur?

It’s common for the gluteal muscles to become inhibited which will prevent them from properly engaging and being able to perform their role.

Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities. This leads to your hamstrings, quads, and calves becoming disproportionately stronger (also called an imbalance).

This imbalance limits the effectiveness of the glutes. The end result is that if we aren’t aware of this imbalance and we don’t correct it, the stronger muscle groups, such as the quads, will over compensate, preventing the glutes from contributing properly within the running motion which can lead to injuries.

If not properly identified, a glute weakness/imbalance typically doesn’t get corrected on it’s own because most runners don’t perform strength training exercises that isolate and strengthen the glutes. Exercises you can complete to fix this problem are listed below.

Additionally, excessive sitting can cause tight muscles, in particular the hip flexors, which will then inhibit the glutes, making them weak and ultimately pulling your pelvis out of alignment.

This glute weakness is an issue I witness frequently with runners whom I coach because they often have not completed much strength training prior to training with me.   

Bottomline, you need to work the glutes to stay injury-free. The following video helps to explain the issue.

Glute Strength Tests

To see if you have weak glutes, you’ll need to perform the following glute strength tests. 

Stand with your hands over your head, palms together. Lift your right foot off the ground and balance. Watch the left side of your hips to see if it dips down. If it does, it’s a sign of glute weakness.

In these photos, I’ve inserted a YELLOW HORIZONTAL LINE, to help identify whether or not my hips are dipping.  You can have a friend take a photo while performing this test or you can complete the test while in front of a mirror to observe results yourself.

Glute strengthening and stretching exercises

For each exercise start with 10 reps the first week and then progress to 15 reps (switch legs), rest for 30 seconds and complete 3 total sets.

Tight hip flexors can inhibit the firing of your glutes. Complete this stretch after every workout (crossfit / conditioning or run)

Step forward and lower your back knee. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Kick Backs:

This exercise engages the middle-butt and low back.

Start on all “4s” by placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.

Extend your right knee and hip to even your right leg with your torso. Be sure your foot is flexed and your neck is neutral by looking down towards the ground. Hold momentarily. Return to starting position.

Leg lifts:

This exercise is a variation of kick backs. While your elbows and right knee are on the ground, lift your left leg until it is parallel with the ground. This is your starting position. Lift your left leg up about 6-12 inches while keeping it straight and then return to your starting position.

Fire Hydrants:

This exercise strengthens the gluteus medius and minimus (smaller muscles in the butt).

Start on all “4s.” Next, make a 90 degree angle with your right leg and then lift your right leg up 6-12 inches while keeping your knee bent. Hold momentarily, then return to starting position.


Lie flat on the ground with your hands by your sides and your knees bent. Pushing up mainly with your heels, keep your back straight and raise your hips up off of the floor. Hold there at the top for a few seconds and then go back to where you started and repeat. For an added bonus, try this exercise with only one foot on the ground at a time!

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Single Leg Squat:

Stand on your left leg. Lift your right out in front of you. Stand tall (don’t round your shoulders), and keep your left knee over your ankle as you lower down into a squat. Your hands can extend out for balance.

Modified Single Leg Squat:

Stand on edge of curb as shown in image. Raise right leg slightly and squat slightly with left leg (note how right foot is higher in 1st photo, side view). Start with 8-10 squats/leg and after completing this exercise 3 times/week for 2 weeks, increase to 15 squats/leg.

Glute & Hip Strengthening Exercises 

This post shows some exercises that are completed with a resistance bands. Bands may be available at your gym or you can purchase a variety of resistances in a pack through retailers like Amazon. If you don’t have access to a resistance bands, you can complete the exercises below (see photos and descriptions).




Learning From the World’s Healthiest People

Learning From the World’s Healthiest People


Learning From the World’s Healthiest People


I don’t typically feature content from other websites, but I have to admit that I’m a “health nut” and I’m fascinated by the theory of “Blue Zones” and how to live a healthy lifestyle. Secrets of people who live long, healthy lives are discussed in the article I link to below.  Blue Zones are certain towns or regions throughout the world where residents are happier and healthier. In order to qualify, there must be an unusually high number of centenarians—people living to over 100 in the area. 

The following article not only identifies where these Blue Zones exist, but also details how the people in the most recognized Blue Zones live their lives. 

​The #1 lesson revealed is all of these healthy people regularly exercise. This is great news for us middle age runners.  Other benefits of regular exercise, not just running, include:

  • It can Make You Feel Happier
  • It can Help Your Brain Health and Memory. 
  • It can Help With Sleep Quality.
  • It reduces your risk of heart diseases.
  • Helps you manage blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • It can Help With Weight Loss.
  • It Can Increase Your Energy Levels. 

I think two other keys to longevity are healthy eating (the article discusses the benefits of swaying towards a Plant Based Diet) & sleep. 

A plant based diet has been proven to reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes and even slow cognitive decline.

The article doesn’t specifically reveal sleep as a lesson learned from those in the Blue Regions, but I have to believe that they have a history of getting 8+ hours per night.  Research shows that consistently getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is beneficial for adults. Poor sleep is strongly linked to weight gain, which is consistent with findings showing sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more.

Click here to get more lessons learned from people in these Blue Zones.

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Symptoms, Root Causes, Proven Treatment & Prevention Strategies for IT Band Syndrome

Symptoms, Root Causes, Proven Treatment & Prevention Strategies for IT Band Syndrome


The Ultimate Middle Age Runner’s Guide to IT Band Syndrome


Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is the one of the most common running injuries [1]. It is the main cause of lateral knee pain in runners.  In this article, I will discuss signs & symptoms of IT band syndrome. Additionally I will review how best to diagnose, treat & cure ITBS.  Lastly and most important, I will review strategies to strengthen and prevent ITBS from recurring or occurring in the first place.

I’m not a trained medical professional, so please use the contents of this post as guidance. As a certified coach, I have used a network of medical professionals as resources for my injuries to whom I refer my local clients. If you’re experiencing any kind of pain that forces you to change your gait, then you should stop running and seek professional medical attention to properly diagnose, treat and prevent recurrence of your injury.

​The iliotibial band (IT band) is a thick band of fibers that runs from the pelvis and down the outside part of the thigh until it attaches into the tibia (shinbone). The gluteal or buttock muscle fibers and the tensor fascia latae (muscles of the hip joint) attach to it. The IT band serves to coordinate muscle function and stabilize the knee during running.

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) shows itself as pain caused by inflammation of the band as it crosses the lateral femoral epicondyle (this gives attachment to the one of the ligaments of the knee-joint. A bursa or sac in this area allows the IT band to glide over the end of the femur.  If you’re suffering from this injury your IT band usually gets sore after a set distance into a run. 

It’s common that you may not initially feel pain for the first few miles, but eventually the outside of your knee will start to ache and ultimately the pain progresses from a dull stiffness to a sharp or burning pain in your knee.

If your IT band is too tight, bending your knee creates friction. This leads to swelling of your IT band and bursa, which results in the pain of IT band syndrome.

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Unfortunately, if these symptoms are ignored, further inflammation and scarring may occur in the bursa, causing progressive knee pain. Most runners report that their pain is worse when going down hills.  They also feel pain when sitting with their legs bent for a long time.

Root Causes and Risk Factors IT Band Syndrome

Inflammation of the IT band most often occurs because of overuse. It’s very common with long-distance runners, especially athletes training for longer races. 

Root cause is typically one or more factors:


  • Bio mechanical issues such poor flexibility and weak quads, glute & hip muscles (discussed below). Weak hamstrings are another contributor. Other less common mechanical issues (such as leg length discrepancy) can cause the injury. 
  • Training errors such as running on one side of the road only where there’s slight slant will cause one leg to always be downhill from the other.
  • Excessive pronation
  • Hip abductor and external rotator muscle weakness . In a healthy and strong runner, these muscle groups keep the hip abducted (moving inward towards midline) and the knee externally rotated, which limits the strain on the IT band. Unfortunately, when these muscles are weak, the hip adducts (moves away from midline and the knee internally rotates after impact with the ground. This results in pressure on the IT band and the underlying sensitive tissue as discussed above. Since the hip muscles control the mechanics of your knee, if you have weak hip abductor muscles and poor hip rotator muscle strength, your knee will be at a higher risk of injury.

Diagnosis – When to See a Doctor

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and the pain is causing you to change your gait, I strongly recommend getting with a medical professional to discuss your pain. A physical examination is often necessary to confirm ITBS.  Typically they will look for general tenderness over the site of the iliotibial band at the knee joint, and they’ll seek tender points where the bursa is located.

Oftentimes the medical professional will complete additional examination so they can see if some weakness or imbalance in the hips, glutes, quads and/or hamstrings is root cause. 

This imbalance or weakness is the most common root cause. 

Also, because many athletes complain that their IT band is tight, a qualified health care provider will having the patient complete a variety of stretches and not only confirm tightness, but also recommend appropriate stretches.  



It’s not a “stretchy” tissue. 

Research suggests that you should target the muscles that attach to the IT band: the gluteus maximus and the TFL.

Pain should be a signal to a runner that a problem exists and often signals an overuse situation. Rest, ice, and appropriate use of over-the-counter antiinflammatory medications) may be adequate therapy to return to your previous activity level. However, keep in mind that pain can be a signal that some kind of bio-mechanical problem exists, and left untreated it may lead to future injuries.

If this conservative home treatment fails to completely resolve IT band pain or if the symptoms worsen, or if the symptoms occur with decreasing amounts of activity, it’s time to be seen by a health care professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Medications & Treatment Options for IT Band Syndrome

Initially the goal with a diagnosis of IT Band Syndrome is to control & minimize the pain. This can be accomplished with anti-inflammatory meds such as ibuprofen.  Also, ice can be applied to reduce inflammation.

Since IT Band Syndrome typically occurs with runners, the medical professional treating the injury may recommend that the athlete stop running for a short time. Acceptable exercise alternatives during treatment are usually non-impact activities such as swimming, elliptical, rowing and biking.  I recommend discussing what’s acceptable with your treating health care professional, because each case varies.

Physical therapy is a common treatment option for many patients. To ensure the most appropriate treatment, the PT will often assess the patient’s running gait and style.  Their goal is to identify any underlying bio-mechanical causes of the IT band inflammation. In addition to the gait analysis, my PT also completed a flexibility and muscle strength assessment.

  • Although the root cause of IT Band Syndrome is typically from weak hip & glute muscles in addition to weak hamstrings, I’ve interviewed a couple of PTs who suggested that depending on the runner’s gait, changing to a more stable running shoe or an orthotic insert did help correct any imbalances or abnormalities.

In my experience and in discussing with my PT, rest, ice, and physical therapy should be able to resolve the injury. However, if pain continues to persist, the health care provider may consider a corticosteroid injection into the inflamed area. This can be painful, therefore it’s typically a last resort. 

Foam Rolling 

Use a foam roller to loosen up soft tissue around the IT band, however, avoid rolling over the painful area.

The Best IT Band Exercises

For Preventing, Correcting & Managing Your Injury

CLAMSHELL with band – Lie on one side.  Prop your head in your hand. Bend knees at 90 degree angle. Use fitness band below your knees. While keeping the feet together, lift the keen on the top leg. Make the small movement shown in the photo (lift the knee until you feel a contraction in your glute. Repeat 10-12 times and then switch sides. 

clam shells

Bridge – Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees & keep your feet flat on the floor as shown. Lift the hips us as high as you can until you contract your glutes. Keep squeezing your glutes as you slowly lower your hips to the ground. 

For additional challenge, lift up & straighten one leg while pointing your toe.  Another variation is with a resistance band around your legs, just above your knees.

clam shells

Lateral Band Walk – Put a resistance band around your legs as shown below. Bend your knees slightly and facing forward, take small steps to one side while squeezing your glutes and hip muscles. Repeat the same movement, but in the opposite direction. While performing this exercise ensure you keep your chest and head upright and facing forward.  Go about 25 – 30 feet in each direction. 

clam shells

Single Leg Squat – With legs slightly further apart than shoulder width, face forward. Lift one leg up and point toe forward while slowly squatting with the other leg (to prevent falling backwards, keep a stool behind you and keep squatting until just above the stool). Keep check & head upright.  Outstretch arms to improve balance. Do not let the knees move forward of your toes. Repeat the squats 6-8 times initially and then increase as you get stronger. Repeat on the other leg. 

clam shells

Planks – Very effective for maintaining upright running form and strengthening your core. This helps to make you a more efficient runner, which can takes the pressure off your knee. If you’ve never done planks, starting by holding position shown in photo for 30 seconds.  Gradually increase hold in 15 second increments to 1:30.

clam shells

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How To Correctly Stretch & Ultimately Fix Plantar Fasciitis

How To Correctly Stretch & Ultimately Fix Plantar Fasciitis

Two months ago I posted a detailed article to help athletes prevent & fix Plantar Fasciitis.  I was motivated to complete the research & report my findings because I’ve been suffering from this nagging and common runner’s injury since early in the Summer.

Now as the Summer ends, the pain from my plantar fasciitis is not as sharp, but it still persists.  So, I visited my Physical Therapist and found the following video which backs up his strategies for relief.

My PT always seems to find the root causes of my injuries.  99% of the time, they exist above the injury.  As you can see in the following video, it’s not simply enough to roll with a lacrosse ball & ice under your foot.  This may relieve the pain, but it’s not addressing the root cause.

In my case, I have stiff calf muscles.  I have been rolling and stretching, but in the same manner as recommended in this video. It’s a slightly different stretch, but it addresses the root cause of my problem (stiff calf muscles and muscles that connect to the foot).

Watch the video & put this stretching strategy (for calf and gluteus medius).


Related Articles

Why Weak Glutes Are a Runner’s Biggest Enemy and How You Can Fix
Risk Factors For Achilles Tendonitis & How To Prevent
Risk Factors, Treatment & Prevention Strategies for Plantar Fasciitis

Risk Factors, Treatment & Prevention Strategies for Plantar Fasciitis

Risk Factors, Treatment & Prevention Strategies for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It’s not unusual for people to manage their plantar fasciitis effectively, only to have their symptoms come back when they stop treatment. For this reason, it’s important to develop strategies to help prevent recurrence. This article will present the risk factors, diagnosis, treatment & a proven prevention program.

I’m not a trained medical professional, so please use the contents of this post as guidance. As a certified coach, I have used a network of medical professionals as resources for my injuries to whom I refer my local clients. If you’re experiencing any kind of pain that forces you to change your gait, then you should stop running and seek professional medical attention to properly diagnose, treat and prevent recurrence of your injury.

Similar to many other running injuries, Plantar Fasciitis is often an overuse injury. It’s described as a stabbing pain that usually occurs with someone’s first steps in the morning. As the athlete gets up and continues to move around, the pain normally decreases. However, it might return after long periods of standing or after rising from sitting.

The pain comes from inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors believed to increase a person’s risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is most common in, but not limited to runners. It’s often reported in athletes between the ages of 40 and 60, although anyone can get it. People who are overweight and those who wear shoes with inadequate support have an increased risk of plantar fasciitis. People who are overweight and run, can put extra stress on their plantar fascia.

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis are either structural (in the foot) or muscle/tendon weakness. For example, people who have problems with their arches, either overly flat feet or high-arched feet, could be more prone to developing plantar fasciitis.

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The injury can be brought on by certain types of exercise. Activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, among other activities, can contribute to an earlier onset of plantar fasciitis. Occupations that keep you on your feet. Factory workers, teachers and others who spend most of their work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces may damage their plantar fascia.

Plantar fasciitis is typically aggravated by tight muscles in your feet and calves.

Wearing non-supportive footwear on hard, flat surfaces can put abnormal strain on the plantar fascia and can also lead to plantar fasciitis.

All of these risk factors can cause plantar fasciitis. Understanding which, if any risk factors you exhibit can help you prevent or minimize the effects of this injury.


You should AVOID self diagnosis of injuries.  Plantar Fasciitis is not limited to the following symptoms.  Instead, these are the most common symptoms reported by runners.

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The pain described by people suffering from plantar fasciitis is usually the worst with the first few steps after awakening, although it can also be triggered by long periods of standing or rising from sitting. The pain is usually worse after exercise, not during it.

Under normal circumstances, the plantar fascia acts like a shock-absorbing bowstring. It’s purpose is to support the arch in one’s foot. If tension and stress on that bowstring become too great, small tears can arise in the fascia. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.

Ignoring plantar fasciitis may result in chronic heel pain that hinders an athlete’s regular activities. If a runner changes the way they walk or run (their gait) to minimize plantar fasciitis pain, this might lead to foot, knee, hip or back problems.  Bottomline, if you suspect you may have plantar fasciitis, seek positive diagnosis from a qualified medical professional.


Because heel pain may also be due to other causes, such as a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation or in some rare cases, a cyst. It is important to have it properly diagnosed by a medical professional.  A foot and ankle specialist is able to distinguish between all the possibilities and to determine the underlying source of your heel pain.  Proper diagnosis will lead to correct treatment and hopefully speed recovery.

Accurate diagnosis begins with the athlete describing symptoms and discussing specifics of their injury. The doctor will examine the foot to pinpoint the source of the pain. The exam, along with the patient’s medical history, will help properly diagnose the condition. During the examination the doctor will look for areas of tenderness in the foot. While holding the affected foot, the doctor may bend the patient’s toes toward their shin and then press along the plantar fascia from the heel to forefoot.

A doctor may also order imaging tests so he or she can rule out any other causes of the pain, such as fractures or heel spurs.

Other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound, are not routinely used to diagnose plantar fasciitis. In my research, an MRI scan only seemed to be used if the heel pain was not relieved by initial treatment methods.


After diagnosis, the first priority with plantar fasciitis as with other injuries is to treat the pain. There are a few options your doctor could try to ease the pain and reduce inflammation. In my experience & research, it’s often recommended to try a few therapies at the same time to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help reduce pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia. A doctor may prescribe multiple doses a day for several weeks.

Depending on the severity of the pain, decreasing or even stopping the activities that make the pain worse are typical first steps. It’s common for a doctor to direct an athlete to temporarily stop activities like running.

Other typical treatment options include rolling affected foot over a cold water bottle or ice for 20 minutes. This can be done 3 to 4 times a day. Putting an ice pack on your heel for 20 minutes several times a day helps reduce inflammation. Place a thin towel between the ice and your heel; do not apply ice directly to the skin.

Some people find that massage helps with symptoms. Focus on massaging the arch of the foot around the injured area. If surrounding muscles have become tense because of the pain, massage those areas as well.

Tip:  Dealing with early morning Plantar Fasciitis pain provided by the Hanson’s:“If you run early and find it difficult until the plantar warms up (or loosens), I suggest putting the foot in the bath tub under running warm water & keep adjusting the temperature until it is as hot as you can stand. This (will) help the early run hobble.”

Exercises that stretch out the calf muscles help ease pain and assist with recovery. When you walk without shoes, you put undue strain and stress on your plantar fascia.

Wearing supportive shoes with extra cushioning and orthotics if prescribed by a medical professional can reduce pain, especially if the patient is frequently standing and walking.  I wear and recommend custom orthotics that fit into my running shoe.  Although orthotics are not for everyone, if prescribed, they help correct underlying structural abnormalities that contribute to plantar fasciitis. A cushioned shoe or insert reduces the underlying tension and microtrauma that’s causing pain with the plantar.  Soft heel pads can also provide extra support, they are inexpensive and work by elevating and cushioning your heel.

Although medication, rest and ice often eliminate the pain, working with a physical therapist (PT) can address bio-mechanic, muscle weaknesses or imbalances that were actually the root causes of the injury.  A Physical Therapist will help with strengthening and stretching exercises (discussed below) that can prevent injuries to the plantar fascia, achilles tendon, and also lower leg muscles.

Kinesiology tape, straps and splints

Although I could write multiple detailed posts about the use of tape, straps and splints. I’ll keep it simple here.  I have experience with using tape to alleviate pain (either myself or athletes I coach).  Tape can help, but it must be applied correctly to achieve it’s maximum benefit. Below are a few videos that may be of interest. Proper taping of the foot or use of straps help support the foot and reduce strain on the fascia. The tape & straps will allow your foot and ankle to move well. Before applying kinesiology tape to your foot, be sure to speak to your physical therapist or doctor to ensure you are applying it properly.

Wearing a night splint can help to maintain an extended stretch of the plantar fascia while sleeping. This may help reduce the morning pain experienced by some athletes. Remember that these devices help relieve the pain, but they don’t correct the root cause. The good news is that they won’t be needed once the pain is gone.  As long as a regular preventative routine is implemented to address risk factors.

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Other (less common) Treatment Options

For those patients who don’t show progress after several months, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. From my research, the surgical option was rarely used and typically only considered after 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment. A foot and ankle surgeon would discuss the surgical options with their patient and determine the most beneficial approach.

A few other treatment options are ultrasound, which is used to target and remove scar tissue. This procedure may allow the patient to get back to their regular routine much sooner than with surgery.

Stretches & Strengthening

Stretching exercises should create a pulling feeling. They should not cause pain. Ask your physical therapist or doctor which exercises will work best for you.

People can speed recovery, relieve pain and prevent recurrence with specific foot and calf stretches and exercises.  Perform these exercises two or three times every day.  Often, muscle tightness in the feet and calves can make the pain of plantar fasciitis worse. So, a good strategy is to gently stretch the plantar fascia, as well as the muscles around your foot and ankle.  The more frequently you do this, the more you will improve foot flexibility, mobility and promote healing of the irritated fascia.

Calf stretch – Lean forward against a wall with one knee straight and the heel on the ground. Place the other leg in front, with the knee bent. To stretch the calf muscles and the heel cord, push your hips toward the wall in a controlled fashion. Hold the position for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat this exercise 20 times for each foot. A strong pull in the calf should be felt during the stretch.

Achilles Tendon & Calf Streching Exercise

Plantar fascia stretch – This stretch is performed in the seated position. Cross the affected foot over the knee of opposite leg. Grasp the toes of the painful foot and slowly pull them toward the body in a controlled fashion. If it is difficult for the patient to reach their foot, then wrap a towel around the big toe to help pull toes inward. Place the other hand along the plantar fascia. The fascia should feel like a tight band along the bottom of the foot when stretched. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat it 20 times for each foot. This exercise is best done in the morning before standing or walking.

Placing a round object under the foot and roll it back and forth. This will help loosen up the foot muscles. People also use a rolling pin, golf or tennis ball or specialized foam roller for this.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch

Flexing the foot increases blood flow to the area and relieves tension in the calves, which can help with pain. This exercise uses a towel or elastic stretch band, which people can buy from sports stores or online.

Plantar Fasciitis Towel Stretch

Curling a hand towel or facecloth with the toes can stretch the foot and calf muscles. Try doing these stretches before walking or doing any other morning tasks.

Picking up a marble with the toes will flex and stretch the foot muscles. This exercise is tough, but highly effective.

If you’ve read through this whole article, you understand the pain resulting from plantar fasciitis and how frustrating and what a painful problem it is to manage. The upside is that there are steps you can take to help alleviate your symptoms, address the root causes of the injury and prevent it from returning.  Regardless of the treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, you must address the underlying causes. Therefore, it’s important to continue with preventive measures which may include long term wearing of supportive shoes, regular stretching, strengthening and possibly using custom orthotic devices as discussed above.

I used many sources in my research for this article. I interviewed a Physical Therapist and numerous athletes who have suffered through plantar fasciitis. I also used articles from the following online sources.


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