A few months ago, I damaged a nerve in my left arm and developed a case of radial palsy. For the most part, that meant I had a limp wrist and couldn’t extend the fingers in my left hand. I could still run, but wore a brace on my wrist to keep it from flopping uncomfortably. Even with it, my running was affected.
I’ve always felt I run asymmetrically, and that was probably the reason I developed achilles tendonitis several years ago, and the reason I’ve been dealing with an off-and-on case of plantar fasciitis for the past five years. Wearing a wrist brace and running even more asymmetrically forced me to notice, and now I’m paying closer attention.
According to sports medicine experts, while the symptoms of plantar fasciitis are found in the foot, the cause is often found in the leg. If your leg isn’t strong enough to do what you’re telling it, or if your form gets lazy, you put too much stress on your foot instead of your muscles. By strengthening your muscles and making them do the work, you’ll take the stress off your foot, where it doesn’t belong.
Nowadays, while I run, I think about how my feet are hitting the ground and how they’re pushing off. It isn’t so much that I pronate or supinate with my left, it’s that I allow it to simply go along for the ride; it doesn’t push off behind me like my right does. On top of that, my left foot appears to stay closer inside, particularly around corners, while I’m more willing to place my right foot at about shoulder-width when necessary (like cornering).
By the end of a run, my left leg is noticeably more tired than my right, presumably because I’m finally forcing it to do equal work, and it’s got some catching up to do. Also worth mentioning, I haven’t noticed any pain coming from my left arch in a while.
Give it a few weeks and I’ll be running on two strong legs instead of one, and with less pain and discomfort. Before taking on that 100-miler, I want to be a well-oiled machine.