Get Rid Of Plantar Fasciitis: Why Every Runner Needs Recovery Shoes

by Sportitude
24 May 2022

As experts in running, 99% of Sportitude Running’s focus goes towards setting you up with the best running shoes for you - from our running shoe reviews on the Sportitude YouTube channel to our RunDNA shoe fitting technology in-store at Sportitude Running@Hindmarsh.

In this article we’re going to flip the switch and turn our attention to recovery shoes. From magnesium to massage guns, prioritising your recovery from the inside out and understanding its role in your performance is an essential part of every runners’ fitness program. Today we’re going to put your feet first by sharing our insight on recovery shoes to protect your bones and ligaments from the ground up.

If you've ever said "my plantar fasciitis is killing me", you're not alone. We’ll put a brand spotlight on OOFOS footwear that has made its mark on the running world for its recovery benefits from heel-to-toe, and highlight what OOFOS thongs and slides can do for you to prevent common running injuries like plantar fasciitis and improve the health and wellbeing of your feet.

Running reduces emotional stress, but increases physical stress on your ligaments & joints

Running increases the load of stress on the tendons, ligaments and bones of your feet, applying force that’s up to three times the equivalent of your bodyweight. Repetitive impacts, particularly on hard road surfaces, can be responsible for overuse injuries like plantar fasciitis which we'll discuss in further detail below.

Although your feet and knees are your body’s natural shock absorbers, the way you strike the pavement (heel strike, midfoot strike or forefoot strike) and your foot type (neutral, overpronated/flat arched or supinated/high arched) can influence how this shock is distributed and whether it is done so in an efficient and effective way.

Keep in mind that even when running on soft surfaces and soaking in the feel-good vibes of the trail, running is hard work for your feet. Trail running engages the muscles in your feet in different ways compared to the consistent nature of the road, activating your toes to 'grip' as you navigate challenging terrain or conquer uphill runs. You may not have to deal with hard surfaces when trail running, but that's not to say your feet won't feel fatigued and in need of rest and relaxation afterwards.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a common running injury related to the inflammation of the plantar fascia. It feels like a sharp, dull, stabbing or burning pain/tightness at the heel or arch of the foot and is generally the most painful when taking your first steps out of bed in the morning. Symptoms may develop gradually or instantly after rigorous training.

Your plantar fascia is the tough, weight-bearing connective tissue that runs from your heel bone (calcaneus), through the arch of your foot and to the base of the toes. It has a critical role in your biomechanics, providing natural shock absorption and aiding in propulsion during movement. Whether you’re walking, jogging, running or jumping, your plantar fascia is at work to support your stride from heel-to-toe and to help you push-off from the road.

Your plantar fascia can become overstressed for multiple reasons, including:

  • Overuse and overtraining
  • Overpronation (flat feet - roll inwards) or under pronation (high arched feet - roll outwards)
  • Increasing your mileage or speed too rapidly
  • Running on hard surfaces like roads
  • Wearing running shoes that don’t provide adequate support and cushioning for your foot type

Running during pregnancy can be safe and beneficial with the guidance of your doctor, but these changes to your body can also place greater stress on the arches of your feet and increase your risk of plantar fasciitis.

Runners may also be more susceptible to plantar fasciitis when running uphill, doing speedwork or training for long distance events like your next marathon. Running has seemingly endless benefits for your mind and body, so by no means does this mean you should avoid your favourite sport, but taking precautions to prevent plantar fasciitis is in the best interest of your feet.

Wearing the best running shoes for you that offer optimal support and cushioning for your feet and knowing when to replace your running shoes is a game-changer for both road and trail runs. However, how you support your recovery is just as vital to assist in injury prevention.

The solution is just under your feet! Too many of us are in the habit of kicking off our running shoes after rigorous training and slipping into flat, unsupportive everyday thongs. To love your feet back, recovery shoes can make all the difference in plantar fasciitis prevention, relief and may encourage faster healing.

What are recovery shoes?

Recovery shoes offer post-workout comfort for your feet – helping them feel refreshed and rejuvenated to ‘bounce back’ faster and keep you primed for your next road session. They’re a must-have for everyone with an active lifestyle – from triathletes updating their triathlon survival kit, to recreational runners. Anyone that stands all day on the job such as our amazing nurses and people in the hospitality industry will benefit from having the best recovery shoes on their feet.

Essentially, recovery shoes give your feet a break from the stresses exercise and everyday activity put them under. Recovery shoes are so much more than a treat or a luxury. For runners that have tried recovery shoes, they’re an essential part in caring for your feet to take your training to the next level.

Just think, you wouldn’t skip stretching your major muscle groups or foam rolling to improve recovery after a rigorous workout, and just as importantly you shouldn’t neglect your hard-working feet. Afterall, feet are the foundations of healthy mobility, posture and balance - the only point of contact you have with the ground to support your entire body when you walk, jog or run your way to better health and fitness.

Are recovery shoes worth it?

Yes! Recovery shoes often come in slip-on styles like thongs, slides or sandals, allowing your feet to breathe and preventing blister-causing conditions created by sweat, friction, hot spots and poor air circulation. Keep in mind that during long runs your feet tend to swell, making these slip-on styles beneficial in giving your beat-up feet a break from enclosed designs that can make your feet feel squashed, suffocated or restricted. For competitive runners, racing shoes tend to provide a snugger, more precise fit around the toe box, so recovery shoes that offer wriggle room will allow your toes to breathe a sigh of relief after you cross the finish line.

By no means should recovery footwear be compared to your run-of-the-mill thongs. Recovery shoes are named accordingly, featuring comfortable materials that won’t pinch or chafe sensitive skin. They offer a boost in arch support, helping distribute pressure evenly from heel-to-toe, stabilising your movement and aligning your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back from the ground up for a healthy neutral posture.

Recovery shoes are engineered with your natural biomechanics in mind, allowing your feet to move and toes to splay naturally with flexible, foot-conforming designs and contoured footbeds. A soft, cradled feel underfoot reduces pressure, with specialised foam compressing beneath your feet in every stride to soak up impact forces.

Shock-absorbing cushioning helps counteract the effects of running on hard road surfaces, which overtime can be detrimental to your feet and cause common running injuries like plantar fasciitis. Lightfeet Revive recovery thongs are a fantastic option for plantar fasciitis sufferers to find much-needed relief and are made of recycled materials for an eco-friendly edge.

Some recovery shoes also provide a massage-like effect with a textured or nubbed insole for sensory stimulation as part of your active recovery. These designs like the Adidas Adissage massage slides gently increase blood flow to your feet to speed up recovery and relieve tension.

You may enjoy relaxing barefoot the moment you return through the front door after a run, but there are numerous benefits to wearing recovery shoes not only out and about but to protect your feet at home - providing soft cushioning to go about your day, alleviate aches and prevent flare-ups of plantar fasciitis.

Next to recovery footwear, massage & recovery tools like Blackroll mini foam rollers or massage balls can be used to stretch and apply gentle pressure to soothe sore or fatigued feet or prevent and provide relief from plantar fasciitis.

Brand Spotlight: OOFOS recovery shoes

In recent years there has been a trend for athletes of all levels to take a more proactive approach to recovery - making OOFOS a brand that’s earned its time in the spotlight. Approved by sports podiatrists, OOFOS recovery shoes are designed with shock absorption, arch support and injury prevention as priorities, taking the stress off your fatigued feet after exercise. For many everyday athletes and plantar fasciitis sufferers, they're the go-to recovery shoes to stand and walk pain-free and to return to running with your feet feeling fresh and energised.

The engineering behind their signature technology OOfoam is in an entirely different category to running shoe performance foams. Running shoe performance foams are typically designed to provide propulsion and rebound for efficient movement from footstrike to the toe-off phase of your gait transition. The compression qualities of OOfoam on the other hand (or foot) provide greater shock absorption. According to OOFOS, OOfoam absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foam.

OOfoam is designed purely for recovery to take the pressure off – not responsiveness to snap into your next stride, and the benefits aren’t isolated to your feet. Designed with your biomechanics in mind, OOFOS footwear offers a rocker-like shape, arch support and patented footbed to relieve pressure not only to your heel and forefoot, but your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.

They come in a variety of styles including sneakers for everyday wear. The OOFOS OOriginal recovery thongs and OOFOS OOAHH Sport are among the most popular in the OOFOS family. Of course, your footwear choice should be about comfort – feel over looks – but in saying that, the OOFOS OOlala and OOFOS OOlala Lux women’s recovery thongs offer a sleeker and dressier design to ensure there is an OOFOS shoe for everyone and every occasion.

If you're suffering from any chronic or reoccuring pain or injury, always seek advice from your healthcare professional.

Happy running and recovery!