The pain in Mike Levad’s heel first pricked up after the Twin Cities Marathon last fall. “It felt like someone had whacked my heel with a hammer,” he said, describing a pain that shot through his foot and up the leg when he got out of bed in the morning.
In April, Levad ran the Boston Marathon.
“I finished in 3 hours, 5 minutes and 46 seconds,” he said. “But then the pain in my heel got worse.”
Levad is victim of an injury caused not by a one-time traumatic incident, but by the repetitive strain of feet pounding pavement.
Indeed, during peak training times, runners such as Levad tick off 30, 40 or more miles in running shoes each week, striking foot to road tens of thousands of times. The abuse can affect the physiology of the foot, creating conditions unique to the running world that -- as in Levad’s case -- are difficult for some doctors to diagnose or treat.
In a story I wrote last month -- "Meet Dr. Feet" -- I look into Levad's case through the lens of Dr. Paul Langer, a podiatrist, a clinical faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and a veteran of two dozen marathons, several triathlons and the Ironman.
Levad was diagnosed with a heel malady called plantar fasciitis.
Dr. Langer's prescription for healing may surprise you.