4 years off from running??
I used to run 7 miles a day until I tore the arch in my foot 4 years ago. I have gained 40 lbs and am having a very hard time getting back into running. My arches are still a bit tender, I think this is mostly because of my weight. I can stand walking about 1 1/2 miles before I need to take a break. How do I get back into my old routine?
Recovery from plantar fasciitis is typically far less than four years. In fact, you could have started running again in as little as six weeks with proper treatment. Of course, since this is a chronic condition, your arches are going to continue feeling tender for a very long time.
You are going to have to start off by making sure that your shoes provide a great deal of support and comfort. You can buy these shoes at any specialty running store, and be sure to mention your arch problems. Typically, they will make several recommendations based on seeing how you run. Just pick whichever one that feels right for your feet after running a little on their treadmills or in the parking lot. Also, they will almost definitely recommend you get some insoles to provide the support that your arches need.
If the insoles are not enough, you may need to get an orthotic that is specially designed for your feet. These custom orthotics provide support for your arches and provide the support and relief that you will need from your runs.
When you find the right shoes, you will have to start off your running schedule gradually. Try running at a slow pace for as long as you can. Perhaps about a mile every other day or so. Do not concentrate on time at all, and focus on distance instead. Stop immediately if you feel any pain. Patience is key.
Good luck easing back into running, and welcome back to the running world.
UPDATE: It seems like you already did all of the conservative measures that I had suggested. It is likely that you have a more serious injury that should be seen by a doctor. To me, it sounds like heel spurs, but I cannot be sure. A heel spur is a bony growth that occurs at the attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel bone (calcaneus). Regardless, there is no question that someone should take a closer look at it. I wish you the best.
The orthopedic inserts will help a bunch, but I would think some about lower impact work until you peel some weight off.
Cycling, or elliptical training might help jump start you again. Swimming is very good too, if you have that resource.
If running is your ultimate goal, you are doing the right thing. Walk. Make sure you are walking in shoes that are professionally fit, and suit your tendencies. If you pronate or supinate, the wrong shoe can really exacerbate the arch problem. Go to a running store for them, if you haven't already.
Take it slow. Tears of any kind can flare up again if you aren't patient. Start with 15 minutes a day walking, and build up. I wouldn't go more than 4 times per week initially.
Prophylactic use of ice is always a good idea.
Good luck, and kudos to you for getting back into it.
UPDATE: I reread your post, and the idea of staying off concrete and asphalt is a very good one. The more you can do on dirt and grass...
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