With plantar fasciitis, you suffer from chronic pain in the bottom of your heel or the bottom of your foot. While it may feel like inflammation, it is associated with a degenerative problem involving the tissue that connects your toes to your heel bone. Plantar fasciitus happens a lot with runners and people who have flat feet, high arches, are overweight, or who are on their feet a lot.
It can take 6-12 months for your foot to get back to normal. You can do these things at home to ease the pain and help your foot heal faster:
Ice: This is an easy way to treat inflammation, and there are a few ways you can use it.
To make an ice pack, wrap a towel around a plastic bag filled with crushed ice or around a package of frozen corn or peas. Put it on your heel 3 to 4 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Or you can fill a shallow pan with water and ice and soak your heel in it for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day. Be sure to keep your toes out of the water.
Another option is to fill a small paper or foam cup with water and freeze it. Then rub it over your heel for 5 to 10 minutes. Never put ice directly on your heel.
Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can make your foot feel better and help with inflammation.
Stretching and exercise: Stretch your calves, Achilles tendon, and the bottom of your foot. Do exercises that make your lower leg and foot muscles stronger. This can help stabilize your ankle, ease pain, and keep plantar fasciitis from coming back.
Athletic tape: Tape can support your foot and keep you from moving it in a way that makes plantar fasciitis worse.
Shoe inserts. Also called insoles, arch supports, or orthotics, they can give you extra cushion and added support. You can get them over-the-counter (OTC) or have them custom made. Typically, your results will be just as good, and cheaper, with OTC inserts. When you choose one, firmer is better -- and make sure it has good arch support.
You might also see advertisements for magnetic insoles to help with plantar fasciitis. Research has generally shown that these don't work.
Heel cups. With each step you take, your heel pounds the ground and puts tension on your plantar fascia. These heel-shaped pads that go in your shoes may help. They raise your heel to relieve tension and give you extra cushion. They often don't work as well as inserts, but they're a cheap option to try.
Night splints. Most of us sleep with our feet pointed down, which shortens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. Night splints, which you wear while you sleep, keep your feet at a 90-degree angle. So instead of shortening your plantar fascia, you get a good, constant stretch while you sleep.
They can be bulky, but they tend to work really well. And once the pain is gone, you can stop wearing them.
Walking cast or boot. Typically, your doctor would suggest a walking cast or boot -- called a controlled ankle motion (CAM) walker -- only when other treatments have failed. The cast or CAM walker forces you to rest your foot, which can help relieve pain. But it's not a cure. When the cast comes off, the pain may return. That means you'll need other treatments too, like insoles and stretching.
Can You Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
Once your foot feels better, you can make a few lifestyle changes to help keep plantar fasciitis from coming back. These include:
Choose shoes with good support. Replace your athletic shoes often. Stay away from high heels.
Don't go barefoot on hard surfaces. This includes your first few steps when you get up in the morning. It's common to feel plantar fasciitis then. So you'll want to keep some supportive footwear by your bed.
You may also want to ask your doctor if it would help to wear inserts in your shoes.
Do low-impact exercise. Activities like swimming or cycling won't cause plantar fasciitis or make it worse. After you're done, stretch out your calves and feet. For instance, curl and relax your toes and make circles with your feet and ankles.
Avoid high-impact activities. These include running and jumping, which put a lot of stress on your feet and can make your calf muscles tighter if you don't stretch them out.
Keep doing your leg and foot stretches. Two of these include:
- Stretch your calves. Stand facing a wall. Put your hands on the wall. Step one foot behind the other, keeping both feet parallel to each other. Gently lean toward the wall, keeping your back heel on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, and then switch feet. Repeat several times on each side.
- Stretch the bottom of your foot. Sit down and cross one foot over your other leg. Hold your toes and gently bend them backward.