Plantar Fasciitis is considered to be a very grave condition that makes it almost impossible to walk or carry out activities. While there is no immediate relief from Plantar fasciitis, one can use various techniques and tools for temporary relief. One such tool is plantar fascia foot sleeves.
These sleeves are like socks but with added pressure on your feet that provides compression to the plantar fascia ligament. While there are various types of socks available in the market, don’t get fooled by the ones that claim to heal pain due to plantar fasciitis but work as mere socks only.
These sleeves are known to provide support while walking due to compression. While it can help in several ways, we help you understand the basics of how compression sleeves work while also helping you choose an ideal sleeve as per your pain and condition.
How do Compression Socks help in Plantar Fasciitis?
Compression may not provide a long-term relief but is very good especially when your feet are at rest and you have combined it with other methods including massage, stretching, and ice therapy. When someone massages your feet, it feels very relaxing. As they press it, it compresses the ligament due to the pressure applied over it.
It feels as though the loose ligament has been held in place together which supports it and reduces the pain. Something very similar is the case with compression socks and sleeves. They may not work when you combine them with normal daily activities but works wonders when you are at rest.
There is no scientific evidence to prove that compression helps plantar fasciitis but practical experience from many people proves this. With compression, there is appropriate pressure applied at the plantar fascia, ball of the foot, heel, and the Achilles Tendon that connects to the calves. This helps in improving circulation to the fascia and aids in movement.
With compression socks and sleeves, it keeps the foot stable even when you are sitting or sleeping, helping to keep the fascia ligament in place. Compression sleeves also help in keeping the fascia slightly stretched which is a great improvement when you step down to walk. Compression socks and sleeves are also known to reduce inflammation due to the constantly applied pressure. These sleeves also provide good arch support without shoes.
Types of Compression Sleeves
Before you get a compression sleeve for yourself, it is very important to understand the condition, the intensity of pain, and the right kind of compression sleeve that you may require. The most common types of compression sleeves are:
Ankle Compression Sleeve
Ankle compression sleeves, as the name suggests are made to cover the foot region and extend from the shin to the ball of the foot. Sometimes the heel area is exposed for better flexibility and freedom of movement. However, with plantar fasciitis, it is suggested you get one with heel support and covering.
They are highly stretchable and elastic and provide ease of movement and compression to the ligament. Therefore, this is most preferred by sportsmen and for people who need to remain on their feet most of the time like retail shop workers and site workers. Additionally, you can wear them in replacement to socks or combine them along with socks for effective results.
Calf Compression Sleeve
Calf Compression Sleeves are a tube-shaped piece of cloth that is worn above the feet region and covers the calf section of the feet. It generally rests below your knee and extends right up to where your ankle begins. It can be used to recover from a previous injury, who experience pain while bending their knees, and for heavy exercises and workouts. It helps support the Achilles Tendon that connects to the plantar fascia ligament. If your condition around the plantar fascia is not too severe and if you are developing plantar fasciitis due to an existing feet deformity, then you can consider wearing calf sleeves for additional support. These sleeves can help you stand and workout for long hours.
What to look for in plantar fasciitis sleeve?
There is not much that you can look for in plantar fasciitis sleeves and socks as they usually are available in a universal size and are very stretchable to fit you. However, there are certain aspects you may want to cover while choosing a plantar fasciitis sleeve:
Not every brand understands the grave atrocities that plantar fasciitis does with your legs and the amount of support and pressure you would need. Therefore, certain renowned brands are known for making orthotic based products and are approved or certified by APMA or any other renowned organization. Look for such brands before you buy compression sleeves.
Proper Heel and Arch Compression
With Plantar Fasciitis, the ligament extends right from the base of the feet towards the heel and connects the ball of the foot to the heel region. This region basically forms the arch which needs to be supported and maintained at a level to not face excessive pressure while running or walking. The sleeves must support the heel and compress the arch to maintain the height as well as reduce the impact on the heel while it touches the ground.
How Much Compression is Needed?
Plantar fasciitis can be a result of related foot conditions that may require mild to moderate pressure and compression based on the intensity of pain. Usually, plantar fasciitis sleeves and socks are available in 4 compression levels:
|Pressure (mmHg)||Compression level|
Many podiatrists and people claim that with plantar fasciitis, sleeves that have mild or moderate compression provide significant relief from plantar fasciitis. It is best to try and check what suits you best before you buy one. You may want to consult your podiatrist for the same.
You don’t want something too tight or too loose to fit on your feet. Both of which do no good. Too tight may cause blood circulation problems while too loose would not be beneficial in any way. For the same reason, you may want to try before you choose one.
If you decide to wear them all day, the sleeves need to be sweat proof and possess anti-bacterial properties to keep your feet in good shape. You may want to look for a material like cotton that absorbs sweat, reduces odor, prevents the growth of bacteria, is easy to wash and maintain, and keeps your feet dry.
Fit with your shoes
If the sleeves are too thick, they may not fit very well with your shoes and eventually cause your shoes to slip off. Before getting one, try them with your regular pair of shoes. If they fit well and snug, you are good to go.
You can also combine these sleeves with a pair of supportive shoes meant for plantar fasciitis for effective relief. Look for some top picks for shoes for plantar fasciitis here.
Compression sleeves may lose their elasticity if not cared for properly. While some of them may require handwashing, others require special care with warm water only. Take care to get a pair that suits your feasibility and maintenance levels.
Other Treatments To Combine With Compression
Compression works best when combined with other modes of treatment for effective pain relief from plantar fasciitis. Here is what you can do apart from using compression sleeves for your condition:
Stretching & Exercise
Stretching prevents the shortening of the fascia ligament thereby improving movement and blood circulation in the fascia region. The more the amount of blood that reaches the fascia, the lesser is the pain and the faster is the healing. You can include some toe stretches and calf stretches for plantar fasciitis. Mild exercises like cycling, swimming that does not involve applying too much pain to the fascia can also help in improving circulation and reducing pain in the long run.
Icing is known to be a very effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. You can do this at least 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes after any intense activity to reduce the pain and inflammation in the affected area. Wrap the ice cubes in a piece of cloth and rub them from the ball of the foot to the heel section of your feet, followed by wearing your compression sleeves to hold the ligaments in place.
This can either be combined with compression sleeves or used with your pair of shoes. These are like normal slip-on socks that keep your feet feeling comfortable, cool and gives a gentle bend to the arch for it to stay in place while you wear it. You can especially use it when your feet are at rest during the night while sleeping or while watching TV.
Ace Bandages and Athletic Tapes
Ace bandages and athletic tapes can be combined with compression sleeves and wrapped around the foot for additional support if your plantar fascia needs it. You can refer to our article on how to wrap the foot for plantar fasciitis with an ace bandage to learn the techniques of tying it for effective relief. You can slip a compression sleeve on top of it for increased firmness and blood circulation but make sure it does not form clots around the feet.
OTC Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
You can get Ibuprofen, Naproxen Sodium, or any other NSAID drug that provides temporary relief from pain and inflammation caused due to plantar fasciitis. Make sure to combine these drugs with a proper treatment method for the best results and not get addicted to using them permanently. You can also consult your therapist for an expert opinion if you might be allergic to any class of drugs.
Almost every house these days has a member or two suffering from an underlying foot condition or deformity. These conditions have become a lifestyle disorder now, of which the most common ones are arthritis and plantar fasciitis. While there is no permanent cure for such conditions, one can certainly reduce the impact by investing in tools like compression sleeves. But are compression sleeves really effective for plantar fasciitis? The answer to which is a BIG YES!!
We have mentioned several ways in which compression sleeves support your ligament. If combined with other methods of treatment like stretching, wearing supportive shoes, applying ice, exercises, splints, medicines, and athletic tapes, these sleeves can help in reducing the pain and inflammation and aid in the overall treatment course.
Make sure to choose the kind of sleeve wisely based on the intensity of pain and other foot deformities. Our guide to plantar fasciitis sleeve will help you choose an ideal supportive tool and help you lead a healthier, normal life.
Read our article above, and tell us if plantar fasciitis sleeves work for you in times of pain in your feet, through the comments section below.
Dr Kristine has a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine from New York College of Podiatric Medicine, and currently assists our team of shoe experts by fact-checking and confirming the information presented to the readers. As a podiatrist, she has previously worked with numerous athletes, working professionals, and high to low activity individuals on the impacts of a lifestyle on their feet. She has submitted many research papers on the role of the correct footwear in foot health and how to take adequate care of your feet.
Previously, she worked in a foot clinic attached to a hospital, before she decided to have a private practice in 2012. She has more than 15 years of experience in foot health and has been incredibly gracious in providing her expertise to the Wearsty team! Her patients have ranged from ordinary people ailing with foot problems regarding obesity, old age, and foot stress—to athletes, runners, and workers who have demanding routines.