Recovering from plantar fasciitis and other sports injuries sucks.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about injuries on this blog, and it’s been a while that I’ve been injured.
About 20 months ago I participated in my last running race located in Vancouver, BC.
It was March 2020 – the week before Covid-19 shut everything down.
It was a great race, just 10km, but I felt fantastic – mind, legs, and stomach.
Everything, aside from blood sugars, felt like it was going right in the run.
At about 3 km in, I felt a twitch, a teensy, weensy, tiny, little twitch.
I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I kept going because that twitch was not strong enough to push me off course.
The blasted injury
Within days that twitch had me hobbling.
I couldn’t walk on bare floors without cringing in pain.
I could no longer wear heels, and my flats were out of the question too.
Friends, I have plantar fasciitis, and I’ve had it for the past 20 months.
I’ve had plantar fasciitis a couple of times previously in my running career, but never has it taken this long to heal.
I’ve done countless rounds of physiotherapy with two different physiotherapists.
I do foot exercises daily and roll my foot with an ice bottle regularly.
I’ve had a cortisone injection, which slightly helped for 4 months, but when I broke my other foot last April and had to rely on the PF foot more, the pains came stabbing back.
I’ve had shock wave therapy, active release therapy, IMS needling.
I invested in orthotics and heel lifts.
I only wear running shoes, no matter where I go.
I have not run in almost 2 years.
And still, that plantar fasciitis remains like the vicious little beast it is.
Bloody freaking hell, I am frustrated.
Have you been in this place too?
Often, the first therapy we look to with sports injuries is medicines – hello Ibuprofen – followed by physio, or massage, or chiro. We put our faith in RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation – which is great. But, we don’t often think of nutrition.
And yet, take it from this type-1 diabetes dietitian, nutrition can play a significant role in injury recovery – specifically in the stages of inflammation and remodeling.
The flames of inflammation
The first stage of injury is inflammation, which can last up to 5 days. This stage is really important because it increases blood flow to the injured area and signals healing properties to help speed up recovery. But it’s also really annoying for us active people because it involves pain and swelling.
Although inflammation is beneficial, we don’t want too much of it – and that’s where nutrition can help.
Omega 3 fatty acids are AMAZING in this stage of injury recovery because they have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation.
Recommendation: Add 3-9 grams of omega 3 fish oil per day (dose depends on body size) and eat at least one serving of the following per day:
- Olive oil
- Flax oil
- Ground flaxseed
- Other seeds
- Raw mixed nuts
- Omega 6 fatty acids because they are inflammatory and counterintuitive to the goal. Some of these include vegetable oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil.
Rebuilding that body
The remodeling stage of injury is when your body is building back to a healthy state. This stage can be super quick, like 5 days, or irritatingly slow, up to 2 years or more – hello PF!
This stage is mostly about common sense eating. We want to make sure that our meals are well balanced. Although we’re not expending the same amount of energy that we would be if we were regularly running or swimming or lifting weights, our metabolism is still working hard and needs ample energy and protein to recover.
Recommendation: The plate model is probably the easiest method to follow here. It includes a ½ plate of multi-colored vegetables, ¼ plate carbohydrates, ¼ – 1/3 plate protein with 1 tablespoon oil, or a small handful of nuts and seeds.
Another way of looking at getting adequate protein is having 1 palm-sized protein for women per meal and 2 palm-sized protein for men per meal.
Although the plate model is going to provide a good source of nutrition, there are some vitamins and minerals that may further help accelerate recovery if boosted up. These include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and zinc.
Note: Following these recommendations may help to speed things along. However, we do need to remember that they won’t work in the same way for every person. These are general recommendations, but we are all individuals, and our injuries are specific to us.
Still, following good nutrition is a bonus no matter where you are in life.
And, who knows, before you know it you may be where I was just the other day – back in my running sneakers, running for the very first time in nearly 2 years.
Happy, happy me!