You Have Plantar Fasciitis, Now What?

plantar fasciitis
By Greg Gargiulo

The Best Possible Ways to Treat Your Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the leading causes of heel pain in the general population and the most common cause of heel pain in people who run regularly. It's been reported to affect about 10% of the population, and approximately two million people are treated for it in the U.S. every year, making it a major concern for both patients and medical professionals.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to your toes. It's designed to absorb the great amount of stress and strain put on the feet by the rest of the body, but sometimes there is too much pressure that irritates or inflames the tissue and causes plantar fasciitis.

When plantar fasciitis develops, it typically results in a stabbing pain beneath the heel that's worst with the first few steps in the morning but usually decreases as the day goes on. It can affect athletes and non-athletes alike of practically any age, but it's most common in people between the ages of 40-60, those who work jobs that require lots of time standing, as well as runners and overweight or obese individuals.

Basic treatments to address your pain from plantar fasciitis

More than 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve within a few months by making some basic changes and following conservative (non-surgical) treatment methods, many of which can be performed at home with minimal equipment:

Rest

Limit or stop activities that make your pain worse, especially if they involve lots of pounding on the ground; if you're a runner, lower your weekly mileage and/or try integrating some lower-impact exercises like swimming or biking into your exercise routine

Ice

Freeze a plastic water bottle and roll your foot over it for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day

Massage

Freeze a golf ball and roll it under all regions of your foot for about 30 seconds at each region, then roll it back and forth along the entire foot

Wear supportive footwear

Make an effort to always wear shoes that give good support in the arch and heel and while avoiding high heels, flip-flops and shoes that are worn out or don't fit

Foam roll your calves

Place one calf over the foam roller, plant your other foot, lift your body and roll your leg from the ankle to just below the knee for about 30 seconds for three repetitions, then switch legs.

Stretching exercises

Stretching is one of the best possible remedies for plantar fasciitis; to perform the plantar fascia stretch: Cross your painful foot over the knee of your other leg, grasp your toes and slowly pull them toward you in a controlled fashion; hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 20 times for each foot

Strengthening exercises

Building back strength in the feet and lower leg will help you to better absorb shock; to perform the toe walk: Stand barefoot as tall as you can on your toes, balance for a moment and then begin walking forward with slow, small steps while maintaining a tall, balanced posture for about 60 feet; complete three sets with a short break in between

Physical therapy

It's usually best to see a physical therapist for additional exercises and specific instructions on how to perform them properly

Use a brace or orthotics

In some situations an ankle brace, night splint or orthotic may be necessary for additional stability, support and pain relief; night splints stretch the plantar fascia overnight while braces and orthotics like heel cups or arch supports can be worn during physical activities to absorb impact and/or distribute pressure to the feet more evenly

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