So if you are looking for a quick fix this may not be the article for you. Few things are ever a quick fix when it comes to health and fitness. However, it has been a successful healing for me, so you may get lucky! This is a write up on how it came that I developed both Plantar Fasciitis and Iliotibial Tract Friction Syndrome. Also the important thing, how I am now running faster and farther, pain free. I am hoping with this some insight may be given and perhaps you can see something that will help you.
My IT band first became injured November of 2008. I was increasing my long runs before the inflammation occured. However I thought my ass was covered become I was very diligent with stretching before and after my workouts, and I always did a warmup and a cool down. However it just looked like the stretching and preparation were not enough. I did not run again until the very end of December, taking the time off to focus on finals for school. Nearly two full months off, it was horrible. I remember that my IT band did hurt for a while after starting running but it got better. I did purchase a new pair of shoes but ended up going back to my old worn out ones strangely enough.
Next I developed Plantar Fasciitis in early May 2009. It was really odd how and when it happened. This was right after the time of the four triathlons in three week period and I was running very low mileage during this time. However the weeks before I was running quite a bit. Also I was in a newer pair of shoes again. The last run I did before deciding to take the summer off my white flag went up early at mile 3 and I got a ride home after the run from a friend because I could barely walk. Often it is unknown exactly how these injuries develop, but they do.
So I took nearly the entire summer of 2009 off and focused on cycling. Finally in early August I started running again in minimalist shoes. I did roughly 30 slow mile weeks for four weeks and then one night at the end of August I went out and ran 26.2 miles for the hell of it. This was the first time I had felt my PF hurt during a run. The twinge only happened during the tail end of the 26 miles and went away before the run was over.
When I started running again I also began using a night splint, rolling the area on a golf ball, and icing the area. I would leave home for a week to visit Desi in Spearfish SD and not wear the night splint or do any stretching, and feel absolutely no difference in my plantar fascia. Many people swear by one or all of the treatments I mentioned, I however noticed nothing. I found I was relatively pain free for the most part with our without doing them.
After the 26.2 mile run, for four weeks I did 70 miles a week. This ended with a 31.16 mile out and back. There is a race here where the runners are dropped off in a town 15 miles away and race back to campus. Last year I was dropped off four miles out of town by a friend and ran to the start and back, resulting in 26.2 miles. This time I started from my house and ran to the start and back with everyone. This made the run 31.16 miles. Again I did feel some PF pain a bit towards the end for a mile but it went away quickly during the run.
Currently (as of 2009) the only time I will ever feel heel pain is from standing too much in shoes with too much support. Oddly enough the one thing professionals say is to NEVER go without support when you have plantar fasciitis. I had a cashiering job so did a lot of standing. I found after a few hours my PF would start to become agitated. I purchased a pair of insoles to wear, but they did nothing, perhaps even made it worse. I also tried to wear a pair of your regular running shoes, but again the pain just got worse. Finally I tried to do what I was when I ran, go as minimalist as possible. I wore my Puma Speed Cats to work one day. These have no support and are just about totally flat on the bottom. It shocked me to realize that in these shoes I had no PF pain from even an 8 hour shift at work! I had another pair of super flat unsupportive shoes, and they were the same way. However if I wore a pair of one of my shoes with inserts, the pain would come back.
The week after the 31 miles I did get some ITBS pain again. A few times after that run I did go out again on Medary, same road, and do a few runs. Towards the end, 5 or so miles into them, I would get slight IT pain but finish just fine. Afterwards I simply took some time off and took advantage of a holiday to travel and see Desi. Unfortunately I left my shoes in Spearfish with her and was without them for a couple weeks, running in my pair of old trainers. While running in the shoes the ITBS pain started hurting within a mile or two of the runs and I would cut them short after 3 miles and have to head home. After a couple weeks without the my shoes, I got them back. First run in them, zero ITBS pain. The experience was amazing. I went from getting the twinge within two miles and cutting the run short to not having any pain at all.
This time however, I knew exactly what caused this bout of ITBS and exactly how to fix it. The race took place on paved road out of town, so I did a great deal of training on that road prior to the run. Looking back 60% of the 167 miles I ran before the 31 were on that road with the center line to same side of my body. I suppose the slight incline of the road for 100 miles caused some stress over time.
Now with my minimalist shoes I was again back in business. All the races were behind me for the year so I had some easier weeks and the training was down a bit. The snow came and another issue arose. Here is South Dakota is gets really cold. As of writing this I am not sure if it has been above 30 for a few weeks. That tends to make long runs, or any running outside at all, very uncomfortable and difficult. Now comes the track problem. First off, the track at my local Wellness Center is horribly designed. 9 laps for a mile and it is almost in a rectangle shape with slightly curved corners. I have ran on smaller tracks before and this has the sharpest corners I have ever seen. And, who makes an odd numbered mile track?!?
Anyway I began to find that if I went for longer than eight or nine miles with my right side on the outside, my IT band would start to hurt. Nine miles is 324 left hand turns. Luckily though all I have to do is jump on a treadmill, run outside, or go the other direction on the track (if it is late and no one else is on there) and the pain instantly goes away.
But now after so many miles of running since my return I believe I have finally found what I need to run injury free and successful. I ran for a year and a half and was injured twice for about two months off each time. Now running in the thinner and more flexible shoes, I am going faster and farther, injury free.
Now if you are feeling any of these pains. Do not go out and switch into minimal shoes and start running again. There is an injury and some time off will be essential, duration based on how much and what hurts. If you have been running in the regular Nike moon boots and switching to minimalist running there should be a transition time as well. You will be using muscles with your new form that have been neglected for years of running. Here is an excellent post on how to make the transition. It refers to barefoot running but the transition is very similar to switching to running in Vibram Fivefingers or XC flats.
The point of minimal running is that it forces a midfoot strike and allows your foot to land how it should. We have been running so for the last 200,000 years and Nike comes along in the last few decades and tells us we are running wrong, I'm not buying it. Here is kind of the flagship article on the subject. Not the first, but one of the best IMO. If you are looking for more, please check this out.
Shoes = injuries
Vibrams = Faster, farther, pain free
Here is an update. I have only felt PF pain maybe a few times in the last year. The only time it will occur is during a very high mileage week. I have done a few 70 mile weeks and towards the end I can sort of feel it. I would not call it a pain, but whatever it is goes away quickly with my rest weekends and does not return.
With the ITBS, over the last few months I get a twinge every now and then, maybe once every week or two. As of today I I have only felt it once in the last month or so (the day after a 10 mile run on the track). It seems if I ever feel it, it will be for a minute a couple miles into a run. I can simply stop and stretch it for 30 seconds (or not) and the pain always goes away. I have been making an effort to not land so close to the center line of my body when running as well. I believe I do this more on the treadmill then on a track. My attempt to correct this may also be helping reduce strain on the IT band.
I have not felt any PF pain is a very very long time :)
As for ITBS. Earlier in this year I would still sometime feel tightness in the area. But that happens in every area while running :p I'd say I'm fairly healed up :)