One of the most common reasons why a person will visit an orthopedist is because of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis (PF) is the #1 reason why pain occurs chronically underneath the heel. Among men and women who seek professional care for foot ailments, 11-15% are suffering from PF, according to Mohammad Ali Tahririan et al. in a 2012 Journal of Research in Medical Sciences report. Shockingly, this condition will impact 1 in 10 US citizens at some point during their lives. It occurs especially frequently in young men involved in sports and in obese middle-aged women. Generally, athletes are more susceptible to PF – although they do not always need to receive professional treatment.
You may also see plantar fasciitis called runner’s heel, painful heel syndrome, or heel spur syndrome.
Many patients are particularly interested in steps they can take on their own to facilitate recovery from this pain condition. Here are a few at-home strategies that can deliver relief:
Try to cease or strictly limit any tasks that exacerbate foot pain.
Bring as much support to the area as you can to try to alleviate some of the soreness of PF. The shoes you choose should feature strong padding in the heel and assist the arch. Hiking boots may be the best option, as noted by physiatrist Christina Lasich, MD. Dr. Lasich advises that the rocker-bottom shape and rigid sole shield the foot while reducing pressure on it. Stability is also built into the design of these shoes (since they are intended for such rough use). Stabilizing and protecting your foot will help you recover from plantar fasciitis.
Orthotics, or shoe inserts, can also be used. By minimizing the amount of strain and pressure on the plantar fasciitis ligament, an insert can alleviate pain. You can simply take out the insole that originally was built into your shoe and replace it with a higher-quality one. You have the option of standard-sized or custom-made insoles.
You will increase the range of motion through the area by stretching out the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. To help your arches, use ankle and foot strengthening exercises.
If you are looking for ways to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis, you will find it helps to prepare before you even take your first steps of the day. You want to target the area by stretching your lower legs and feet in bed, prior to rising. As you get up and go about your day, be mindful of your recovery, exercising and stretching your legs and feet periodically.
One exercise you can try is to lie down on the ground with the bottoms of your feet facing a wall. Bend your knees and place your feet flat. Now, with your heel and arch remaining on the floor, push your toes against the wall. Maintain the stretch for 10 seconds. Three or four times during your day, stop for a moment and do 10 repetitions of this exercise.
Ice to counteract some of the inflammation. You can either use an ice pack or frozen vegetables. Once 15 minutes have passed, locate the area that is the most tender and massage from side to side. Because this motion leads to cross-fiber friction, you may feel immediate discomfort. However, it does help to boost circulation and accelerate recovery. Once you have massaged your foot for two minutes, do another 15 minutes of ice. Perform this process for both feet two times each day, minimum.
That's right: put a golf ball in your freezer, notes Sabrina Grotewold in Competitor Running. Get out the ball once it is completely frozen and move it across the underside of your foot from the toes to the heel. Roll it, but also place pressure on the ball for 15 seconds on each portion of your foot. Finally, roll it across the whole foot from back to front and front to back.
Foam-roll all tight muscles that are not in your foot but might be contributing. As mentioned by running coach Jon Clemens, tight shoulders will sometimes lead to plantar fasciitis, since the way that your arm swings may lead to misalignment in the hips and, in turn, issues with the footstrike.
A resting night splint can help to alleviate and heal plantar fasciitis so that you do not accidentally tighten your muscles or get into uncomfortable positions during sleep. Many patients are able to find relief by committing to wear a splint in bed. Nonetheless, Dr. Lasich cautions that "wearing a splint to bed is awkward and your bed partner may grumble."
Are you suffering from the excruciating pain of plantar fasciitis? At-home tactics may not be enough for a full recovery. At Next Step Orthopedics, Dr. Dominique Nickson offers accurate diagnosis and effective treatment to patients struggling with foot pain. See our testimonials and reviews.