Sports doctors and physical therapists have come up with some novel treatments for injuries. One of the most unique therapies is the 'ice-tin' treatment for plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of the connective tissue which runs along the bottom of the foot). To treat fasciitis, keep a 12-ounce tin of non-carbonated soda or iced tea in the freezer section of your refrigerator, and roll this frozen tin under your hurting arch for 10-12 minutes at a time, several times a day. The coldness reduces inflammation, while the rolling action applies a nice stretch to your hyper-tight fascia. If you cut back on your mileage, take ibuprofen as directed by your doctor, and start the tin-rolling process early while the fasciitis is still in its infancy, you may be able to avoid making the acquaintance of an expensive set of orthotics. Don't use a carbonated-soda tin, however, or you may injure your hands trying to clean up your freezer.
Once your plantar-fasciitis symptoms have subsided, it's time for some of those strengthening exercises we mentioned. One of the best exertions for plantar fasciitis is something called 'toe pulls', also described in SIB issue 3. To carry these out, stand barefooted with your feet hip-width apart. In an alternating pattern, curl the toes of your right foot and then your left foot down and under, as though you are grasping something with the toes of each foot. Repeat this action (right foot, left foot, right foot, etc.) for a total 50 repetitions with each foot. Rest for a moment, and then complete two more sets. Try pulling yourself across the floor (smooth surfaces work best) for a distance of three to six feet as you become more skilled at this exercise. Toe pulls strengthen the muscles and connective tissues in the arches of your feet, taking the pressure off your plantar fasciae.
As you know, catastrophic injuries are uncommon in endurance runners, but the repetitive motions of long-distance running do produce lots of little strains and inflammations. Normally, these small problems develop into major difficulties only if the right steps aren't taken. The key is to develop training strategies which promote healing - not irritation - of hurting body parts. These strategies include taking more rest days between workouts (having fewer consecutive days of training), reducing mileage whenever a trouble spot arises, and carrying out plenty of running-specific strength training. If you want to toughen your training without raising your risk of injury too much, a reasonable strategy is to slightly raise your average training speed, instead of tacking on lots of additional miles.
Finally, remember that by far the best predictor of future injury is a past history of injury, so if you were hurt sometime during 2000, be careful! Your chance of an injury this year is about 50% greater, compared to the lucky runners who managed to stay injury-free last year.
~excerpts from www.sportsinjurybulletin.com
article by Owen Anderson