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Pain-Free Guide: The Fit Girl's Guide to Common Exercise Pains

You've worked hard to get in shape, but suddenly you're feeling more achy than athletic. Prepare for a speedy recovery with our drug-free DIY treatments.
Reduce foot pain Common Problems for Runners

Lance Armstrong might not let a shattered collarbone keep him from his Tour de France training, but most of us are slower to bounce back when injury strikes. The trick is knowing the right way to rehab. "Too often, a minor injury becomes a major bump in women's fitness routines," says Vonda Wright, MD, a sports medicine surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh and a FITNESS advisory board member. What's the best way to get back in the game? (Hint: It isn't always about speed-dialing your doc.) We asked the experts for tips on how to tackle the most common exercise aches and pains yourself.

Common Problem for Runners: Heel and Sole Tightness

What hurts?
The sole of your foot and heel are tight and tender.

Here's why: With overuse, the connective tissue that runs the length of your sole can become inflamed or suffer microscopic tears. Known as plantar fasciitis, it usually feels worse early in the morning, better during exercise, and painful once you stop.

Feel better: Sit in a chair and place a cold can of soda on its side on the floor in front of you, says Christopher John Anselmi Jr., a chiropractor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Put your foot on top of the can and, applying medium pressure, roll it back and forth. The cold will reduce swelling while the massage eases the pain.

Your new game plan: Buy shoes with arch support; women with high arches are especially prone to this injury. And cut down the mileage until your foot feels better (try a nonimpact cardio activity, like swimming, instead).

Self-Massage Tip!
Always stroke in the direction of the heart to prevent blood from being pushed against closed valves, which could damage blood vessels, says Kimberly Mitchell, a licensed massage therapist in New York City.