Does your job involve long hours of standing?
Are you on your heels most of the time?
Do you feel a constant sense of sharp pain in your feet after hours of activity?
If you relate to the questions we asked above, we don’t want to scare you, but there are high chances that you have started to develop or have developed Plantar Fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis which is also known as Plantar Fasciosis or Plantar Fasciopathy is a very common feet associated condition in the United States. It causes sharp and excessive heel pain at the bottom of the feet and is severe if there is excessive activity involved after a period of rest or when you wake up in the morning.
Plantar Fasciitis causes inflammation of a thick tissue band on the bottom of your foot called the Plantar Fascia, hence the name. This tissue connects the heel to the toes and forms the arch of the feet.
Around every 1 in 10 people in the States complain of heel pain that is most commonly associated with Plantar Fasciitis. 80% of the heel pain cases are associated with Plantar Fasciitis. It is more commonly seen in elderly women, dancers, obese people, young athletes, etc. Generally, it affects people between 40-60 years of age.
While most of us have very busy lifestyles and the chances of developing such feet associated disorders are very high, one needs to make sure to take ultimate precaution before it’s too late.
Therefore, after consulting various suffering patients and physiotherapists themselves, we give you some first-hand information and list all that you need to do and not do, if you are a victim of Plantar Fasciitis.
- 1 Do’s Of Plantar Fasciitis
- 1.1 Rest
- 1.2 Stretching
- 1.3 RICE Method
- 1.4 Use Insoles or Gelpads
- 1.5 Athletic tape
- 1.6 Use Heel Cups
- 1.7 Shoes with Good Support
- 1.8 Use a Walking Cast
- 1.9 NSAIDs
- 1.10 Manage your weight
- 1.11 Don’ts Of Plantar Fasciitis
- 1.12 Don’t Walk Barefoot
- 1.13 Reduce Activity
- 1.14 Don’t Use Ultrasound or Laser
- 1.15 Don’t Try Shock Therapy or Expensive surgeries
- 1.16 Avoid standing for a long time
- 1.17 Don’t push through the pain
- 2 How to Exercise With Plantar Fasciitis
- 3 Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
- 4 Massages for Plantar Fasciitis
- 5 Can you Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
Do’s Of Plantar Fasciitis
Here is a list of things that you should consider doing if you have pain in your heel due to Plantar Fasciitis:
You may feel that you are going off routine, but yes, REST is very important if you have even the slightest of pain during Plantar Fasciitis. This is because while you do any activity, be it low or high impact like running, exercising, or even walking, your feet bear the body weight which can cause pain in the arch and heel. Therefore, you can go for mild activities that do not involve lifting your body weight, that is cycling or machine exercises. Keep any kind of a weight off your feet and rest for a while before you resume any activity.
Regular stretching will reduce the pain on your ankle and heel and also help in recovery. Follow some regular stretching routines after waking up and before sleeping for ease of movement and to reduce the pain. You can also consider wearing a night splint which can keep your foot stretched while you are sleeping. Night splints keep your foot at a 90-degree angle that prevents the shortening of your plantar fascia. If you have pain after staying inactive for a long time or sitting at a place for too long, consider stretching to reduce the pain.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation Method which is highly recommended by doctors during an injury or inflammation. This can be followed at home very easily. For rest, stop all activities immediately and sit back completely for the first two days. Followed by which, you can use an icepack over the swollen or painful section of your feet.
For compression, wrap the injured area with a bandage or cloth to avoid swelling. And lastly, place the painful foot on an elevated surface at your chest level that helps in reducing swelling and throbbing for a minimum of 20-30 minutes. If you do not see any improvements with this method, seek medical help.
Use Insoles or Gelpads
Insoles and Gel pads are a kind of additional support in your shoe in which alleviate the pain while walking and don’t let you feel the pressure in the injured area. You can buy customizable insoles and gel pads from any orthotics store, medical store, or even online, and ask your doctor to recommend one as per the pain in your heel for plantar fasciitis.
Gel pads also provide a good shock absorbance and reduce the energy to be spent by your feet, thereby making them more bouncy and energetic and reducing fatigue. If you are looking for one, go for a thicker and firm pair of insoles that are removable and easy to replace. Check if they have good arch support which is extremely helpful in plantar fasciitis.
The purpose of the athletic tape is to keep the feet nerves in place and not cause pain in the heel and arch section of your feet due to movement. These are preferred by sportsmen who indulge in high impact activities. These tapes are available in any medical or sports shop or you can get them online. However, if they are wound around too tightly, it can cause circulation problems in your feet and hence are better avoided.
Use Heel Cups
If you just need some support over the heel area, then you can opt for heel cups. They are not as great as arch supports or gel pads but are a cheaper alternative and do not let your heel directly touch the ground. This reduces the thumping and pressure that your heel takes with each step while walking and running and thereby, the pain does not reach the plantar fascia of your heel that connects to the arch.
Shoes with Good Support
There are shoes available for specific conditions like arthritis or plantar fasciitis that are customized and built in such a way, that they provide good support to your heel. They are firmly cushioned with thick insoles that reduces the impact on your feet and also helps in shock absorbance. You can search online or look for shoes for plantar fasciitis at an orthotics. Make sure to research well and consult your doctor for the best buy.
Use a Walking Cast
This is recommended in case of severe pain. Your doctor would recommend you to use a walking cast that supports your ankle movement and keeps it in place. This is just a temporary relief to reduce acute pain and is supported by NSAIDs usually.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAID’s are pain relievers that make you feel better in cases of emergency and acute pain. It is best recommended to allow the pain to recover naturally and that you don’t rely on NSAIDs always.
Manage your weight
This is true! You need to reduce the pressure and the weight of the body that your feet carry. For which, you need to manage your weight, especially, if you are obese. You can refer to the BMI chart, for a quick estimate of your ideal weight as per your body height and characteristics.
Don’ts Of Plantar Fasciitis
Here is a list of what not to do with Plantar Fasciitis:
Don’t Walk Barefoot
You want to reduce the impact on your feet, for which, avoid walking barefoot and let your shoes do the talking!! Make sure to not walk in empty feet or even wear old shoes or flat sandals while walking. Use shoes with good arch support and have proper cushioning.
You need to wear shoes that feel comfortable and reduce your pain, not pressurize your feet and increase it. Ask your doctor for better suggestions on arched shoes with good support.
Since rest is important during plantar fasciitis, keep your activity to a low or perform low impact exercises if you are a patient of plantar fasciitis. It will only increase the pressure on your feet and elevate the pain further, which you certainly don’t want.
Don’t Use Ultrasound or Laser
Physiotherapists might recommend the use of ultrasound or laser for relief from pain. Ultrasound is a high-frequency wave that transmits energy through vibration and helps in reducing the pain, BUT ONLY TEMPORARILY. Laser has been considered to be better, which is generally used for soft tissue pain and injuries. It has been proven to provide an analgesic effect, which again is temporary. Therefore, you may not want to waste your money behind these temporary pain relievers and look for a better alternative.
Don’t Try Shock Therapy or Expensive surgeries
While Shock Therapy is known to be effective and surgery may seem like a permanent solution to help relieve the pain once for all, think again. Most Plantar Fasciitis surgeries can also be resolved without any surgical intervention or extensive therapies so do not give in easily. You can use the remedies we have mentioned above for a quick and effective relief measure.
Avoid standing for a long time
If you are a victim, then you must avoid standing or indulging in extensive activity for a long time. Standing for long hours will only put most of the pressure on the arch and heel and increase the pain due to the body-weight.
Don’t push through the pain
Even if you are suffering from mild to moderate pain, listen to your body. It is clearly signaling you to take rest. Do not overexert in pain as it will only make your condition worse and make it extremely painful for you in the long run, leading to tearing of the fascia. You can resume mild activity after the pain has reduced and once you have followed the stretching and treatment procedures.
How to Exercise With Plantar Fasciitis
Once you are a victim of Plantar Fasciitis, a lot of you may start thinking that exercising gets tough and it’s the end to most physical activities that were once a part of your routine. However, you can still have some mild activity to keep you going and keep your fascia in shape. We suggest some exercises and how to go easy on them.
Certain muscles like the taut muscles in your feet and calves can lead to increased pain in the fascia of the heel. For which, you need to keep those muscles moving by stretching. Here is what you can do:
Stretching Your Calves:
- Stand at an arm’s distance from a wall
- Take your left leg forward and your right leg behind the left leg
- Bend the left leg forward slowly and let the right leg remain straight
- Keep the heel of the right knee touched to the ground and straight
- Hold the position for 15-30 seconds
- Release and alter the position of the legs for stretching the left leg
Stretching your Plantar Fascia:
- Grab a chair and sit straight
- Use a foam roller or a bottle of water and keep it below the feet, right under the arch.
- Roll your feet over the roller or bottle for a minute
- Switch to the other leg and repeat the same for a minute
Stretching the big toe:
- Bend your feet and bring your toes closer.
- Grab the big toe and stretch it towards you, hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds.
- Do this 2-3 times
- Repeat the same for the other big toe
Stretching the lower feet:
- Take a thick towel and fold it in the shape of an exercise strap
- Sit straight and take the towel under the arch of your feet
- Hold the ends of the towel with both hands and stretch the towel towards you. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
- Repeat the same procedure for the other leg
These exercises can be followed daily, and great for reducing pain in the fascia and preventing them for a long time if followed regularly.
Do Low impact activities
Certain activities like yoga, cycling, swimming do not involve the bodyweight falling on your feet in any way. Hence, they would neither cause Plantar Fasciitis nor increase the pain if you already have it. Follow some stretching routines before you get started and after you are done with these exercises for better performance and fewer chances of soreness of the muscles.
Avoid High Impact Activities
Any high-impact activities like running or jumping can have a direct impact on your feet, for which, you need some days off and appropriate rest at least when you are in severe pain due to Plantar Fasciitis. Use the RICE method to heal yourself completely, and start building up some endurance gradually before you perform any impactful activities.
Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
If you are following home remedies for Plantar Fasciitis, chances are the pain may reoccur again, if you don’t follow it regularly. However, one permanent solution to this could be surgery which is again a very tedious process. Here are some treatment options that you can consider and are recommended by doctors:
NSAIDs help reduce the pain and inflammation in the fascia region of the feet. Based on your doctor’s prescription, you may get multiple doses. The medications also depend upon the intensity of the condition and inflammation.
If your body does not respond to NSAIDs, then you may want to consider steroid injections. But these may require monthly doses. This treatment option is not quite permanent and should be undertaken by a renowned doctor to avoid dosage based complications.
A very fast track procedure and requires only 10 days for recovery. It is just a small cut in your body to repair the fascia after which the scar tissue is repaired using ultrasound. You can consult with your doctor and ask for more recommendations on the Tenex Procedure.
Shock Wave Therapy
As the name suggests, this method of treatment literally shocks your plantar fascia. The shock waves stimulate blood flow in the feet region, which helps the fascia in faster healing. It also basically shocks your nerve to stop the pain from reaching your feet.
Along with medicines and REST therapy, you may also want to consult a physiotherapist for some physical stretches and exercises to help alleviate the pain and stretch some muscles. Your doctor would teach you new exercises to relieve and stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles Tendon, and lower leg muscles. They also use certain heating devices and sauna baths for healing the joints with heating and improving blood circulation around those joints.
This is the final option to be considered if nothing works and the pain is too severe. It is a very short surgery and the recovery may involve wearing splints or special shoes and not put excessive weight on your feet. You can also wear a walking cast for support to not put any weight on your heel.
Massages for Plantar Fasciitis
If you are in the initial phase of pain due to plantar fasciitis, then you start your treatment by gently massaging the painful sections of your feet. Here are some basic massages that you can try:
Heel of Hand Massage:
Involves rubbing the palms against the heel of your feet with pressure. You can also use your clenched fist for the massage.
Same movements as above, involving your thumb instead of your palm. Press the thumb gently with pressure underneath the feet.
Basically involves pulling your toes with your hands. You can try this for each toe or all toes together depending on the level of pain. Massage it in different directions for better movement and flexibility.
Use a foam roller or ball underneath your feet and move it forward and backward slowly across the length of your foot. Add pressure by pressing your feet against the ball for better effect.
A professional targets the painful area first and then does a deep tissue massage to reduce the pain from the core. Professionals usually target the calves, then the deep muscles of the back and outer part of the calf, and then come to the tendons and muscles of the foot from where the pain travels. Their massages involve a series of movements like muscle energy technique, positional release, pin and stretch, and many more.
Pro Tip: Before starting to massage, you can always warm-up your feet by soaking them in warm water that has web sum salt. Do these exercises correctly for effective results.
Can you Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
This has been a very controversial question amongst most patients suffering from Plantar Fasciitis and also amongst various orthopedics. If you experience sudden pain, then the answer to it is no. However, you can prevent Plantar Fasciitis with consistency in treatment, stretching, and exercises and by following the do’s and dont’s mentioned above.
Falling prey to Plantar Fasciitis depends on various factors and it is very unexpected unless you are suffering from leg deformities in the past. However, you can prevent matters from getting worse by taking the above-mentioned precautions.
Plantar Fasciitis is now a very common lifestyle disorder and is an extremely prevalent condition. However, having Plantar Fasciitis does not mean, you cannot lead a normal lifestyle, but our daily routine needs a break from the amount of stress that our feet take. You can certainly reduce the pain by stretching daily, wearing feet supports, and exercising.
If the pain is too severe, you may want to consult an expert and go for shock therapy or surgery if matters are worse. You can easily reduce the pain with RICE therapy and stretches as well as controlling your weight if you are obese. Remember, with plantar fasciitis, the main aim is to take maximum pressure on your feet.
Read our do’s and don’ts above and tell us if it helped you relieve pain due to plantar fasciitis in 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.