Plantar fasciitis is a painful problem that can linger for several months. It occurs when there’s been damage to the plantar fascia tissue, which runs from the ball of the foot to the heel, spanning the arch. Some people feel it as a general achy feeling in the foot, while others experience a sharp stabbing pain in the heel of the foot. The pain is typically worst in the morning when getting out of bed, though it can also occur throughout the day, especially after long periods of sitting.
Since you use your feet everyday—potentially causing more damage to the plantar fascia—it’s difficult to treat plantar fasciitis with any one particular remedy. Taking a multifaceted approach is often best.
Stretches and Massage
The reason that plantar fasciitis pain is worst in the morning is that your foot position while sleeping allows the muscle to contract. Stretching the muscle by flexing your feet a few times before getting out of bed can make a big difference. You’ll also want to stretch the muscles periodically throughout the day. Perhaps the best stretch you can do is to stand on a stair with the heels dangling off the edge. Allow your body to push the heels down, feeling the stretch in both the arch of the foot and the back of the calves.
Massage will also help. Try putting a tennis ball on the floor and rolling your foot over it, focusing on the plantar fascia area in the arch. Apply as much pressure as you can stand. Some people also feel instant relief from rolling their foot on a can that’s been placed in the freezer for several hours, such as a can of concentrated juice. The coldness helps the healing process.
One of the most important things you’ll need if you want to heal your plantar fasciitis is supportive shoes. You’ll want shoes that have good arch support, and you may need to replace them more frequently than you have in the past. Some insurance companies will even cover the cost of orthopedic shoes or inserts. Keep in mind that you want to have this arch support at all times. If you immediately take your shoes off when you get home, you don’t have that support walking around your house. Consider purchasing a separate pair of slippers or sandals for inside use.
While sleeping, a foot brace can hold your foot in a flexed position. This stretches your muscle throughout the night, so that you don’t have as much pain in the morning. Look for a brace that’s sturdy, yet comfortable. Your foot and leg should fit firmly in place.
If the above techniques are not working, consider a visit to the doctor. In severe cases, a doctor from places like The Foot Clinic will give steroid shots, which can ease the pain in that area, or may even consider surgery. Most likely, though, the doctor will prescribe custom orthotic inserts for your shoes or refer you to a physical therapist, who will help you deal with the problem.
Plantar fasciitis relief may not come for several months, but in consistently working towards healing the problem, you’ll start to feel better.