Easy Solutions for Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain
My Struggles With Foot Pain
I have struggled with plantar fasciitis for a couple of years now. For awhile it had been improving because of advice I'd found online. Lately, however, it has been getting bad again, and I am finally resorting to seeing a doctor in a couple weeks. Not that that is a bad thing—I just I know that I won't be able to take time off from work, and I fear that is what the doctor will tell me to do.
The hardest thing is that I have gained weight because of the plantar fasciitis. I used to jog, and It hurts too much to do that anymore. So I can't lose weight because of this condition. But at the same time, the weight makes it worse.
I have written this article to help others. This condition sure is painful, and I hope others will find some useful information that might help them.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is, first off, very painful! It causes sharp pains in the feet, usually in the arch and/or heels. It can be in one foot, or both. Often it is caused by over-use of the feet, and athletes can be plagued by the condition for months at a time; occasionally it is chronic and can last for years. It can also occur due to poor form when walking, or poor foot structure. Obesity doesn't help if you are already prone to it, and also working for hours on hard surfaces can cause a flare-up. Very high arches and flat feet also contribute to this condition because of the extra strain put on the plantar fascia (the band of tissue connecting from the heel to the toes).
One very recognizable symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain when first getting out of bed in the morning, or even when standing up after sitting for an extended period of time. The pain is often most excruciating at this time, and it is a pretty good symptom that you have plantar fasciitis. You usually will not notice any actual swelling of the foot or heel, but it is known to happen sometimes. The best way to avoid getting this horrendous condition is by wearing shoes that offer good support, especially at work and when exercising, but all the time would be even better! Your feet will thank you.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
Ways to Treat the Pain
Ah, the famous question: How to get rid of plantar fasciitis permanently? But hold on there. It's not that easy. In fact, it's not easy even a little bit. The pain can be relentless, even with the help of a doctor. This is because most of us cannot rest in bed for weeks on end to allow it to properly heal. One big piece of advice I'm going to give you up front is to not get discouraged. Plantar fasciitis likes to linger—that's for sure. That's what it does. But you have to be aggressive with the treatment. That is the only way to get better.
- Rest - Very important! I know, most of us can't afford to take time off work, so what do you do? Well at the very least you have to keep yourself from over-doing it when you're not at work. If your foot hurts doing housework, or out shopping with your buds, or during your golf outing—sit down. Listen to your body instead of fighting it. The more rest you can get, the faster your body can heal itself. The tissue is already damaged, and every time it hurts and you don't listen it will continue to be damaged because it is constantly being stressed with over-use.
- Break up the scar tissue - Also very important, and it will take much longer to heal if you don't do this: You must break up the scar tissue. Especially if you have had a case of plantar fasciitis pestering you for awhile now, you will definitely have a lot of scar tissue built up around your plantar fascia. Professional deep tissue massage is great for this purpose, or you can try some things yourself at home first if you'd rather go that route. Anything that is round, firm, and has the ability to roll is ideal. A golf ball or tennis are popular choices. Also a rolling pin can work very well if you don't mind buying one just for the use of your feet. You will want to roll your foot along the ball, rolling pin, etc. You must use pressure though if you want it to do any good. Also something that helps is when your laying down relaxing, use the heel of one foot and dig it into the arch/heel of the other foot as if you're massaging it. This will break the scar tissue up and promote healing. You will want to do this at least every other day in order to see results. It does hurt at first! But the more often you do it, the less it will hurt you.
- Orthotics - You can opt to have custom orthotics made at the doctor, or you might want to first try some that are available to buy from most stores. A good (but not overly expensive option) is the Dr. Scholls custom fit orthotics. You step on a machine (Wal-Mart has them), and it gives you an idea of what kind of support your foot needs. It gives you a number, and you select the right shoe inserts to the corresponding number. They don't work for everybody though. But it is worth a shot if you don't want to spend possibly hundreds on orthotics at the doctor. I used the Dr. Scholls orthotics along with a somewhat thin foam shoe insert too for extra support. These two paired together helped tremendously.
- Ice and heat treatment - Different people will tell you different things when asking if you should use ice or heat. Think of it this way. Ice will help immensely after you've been on your feet all day and you feel like your feet are screaming in pain. Because ice helps with inflammation and swelling, and also has a numbing effect. You can use ice packs, frozen bottles of water, bags of frozen veggies, etc. I suggest frozen water bottles, because you can roll it under the heels of your feet easily. But the downfall to ice is that it can also prevent good blood flow to your feet. And you need that blood flow for proper healing. Using heat can help with that blood flow, therefore promoting healing, but it is known to make the pain worse for some people. So basically it is a choice between pain relief with slower healing, or faster healing with less pain relief. Ice worked well for me, but everybody is different! If you can tolerate the heat it certainly can only help your condition, not harm it.
- Good shoes - Good shoes are a must have for those suffering from the evil effects of plantar fasciitis. Some of the best brands include Orthaheel, Vionic, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, and New Balance. But not so fast! You can't just pick any kind of shoe that these manufacturers make. Some are for running, standing, walking, etc. So make sure you're getting a pair that suits your needs. I like to use amazon for things like this since you can search for the different kinds of shoes and read their uses and user reviews all in one place. Some shoes are made to control motion of your foot, which is what has worked very well for me personally. These are usually called stability or motion control shoes. They usually have a nice thick sole, which helps to take the pressure off of your painful heels. Choose wisely, because the right pair can make a world of difference.
- Diet - There are a few foods that can sometimes be helpful with plantar fasciitis, but to be realistic, it is not going to work miracles. I ate pineapple every day during the summer and it made no difference for me. But some people say it does help them. Pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach can help with some of the pain by reducing inflammation somewhat. Also, salmon is good for fighting inflammation too. Give it a shot!
- Night splint - This is a sort of brace that is shaped in a way that keeps your foot in a constant stretch (flat) all night long, rather than letting it flop around naturally. It helps by not allowing your foot to arch over night, which causes pain when you step flat on your feet in the morning. It is said to help most people significantly in the healing process, and reduces morning pain very well too. If you decide to purchase one yourself without the doctor directing you, don't go cheap. I made that mistake and got what I paid for—junk.
- Foot brace or compression socks - I used a foot brace at the height of my pain, and it helped a lot. Compression socks essentially offer the same thing. They keep your foot from flexing as much as it would otherwise when walking. You want a brace that goes down around your arch and over the top of your foot.
- Stretching - Stretching is another super important thing that you need to do, Stretching of the foot, and also stretching of the calves, because usually if you have plantar fasciitis you also have tight calves, and this is not helping you at all. They are all interconnected, so they all will need worked on. A wall calf stretch is very good for helping with plantar fasciitis pain. But basically any stretch where you can feel a good pull in your calves is going to help you. Also stretching of the foot itself is needed. If you cross one leg straight across the other leg and grab your toes and pull back you feel a good stretch on the plantar fascia. Also sitting with your feet under you on the floor, with your toes holding you up gives a tremendous stretch, and this one always felt so good to do for me. You will start seeing improvements if you do these every day!
- Anti-inflammatory medicine - These would include medicines like Advil, Ibuprofen, etc. They definitely do help with the pain of plantar fasciitis, but it really does nothing to help heal the issue itself. So it is sort of like putting a band-aid over the true problem. But you should absolutely use them if they help you. Just make sure to do other things too in order to promote healing!
Plantar fasciitis stretches
It's Not Working. I Need a Doctor!
If none of these work for you after some time then it probably is best for you to go see a good podiatrist. They have a few different things that may help you, although the treatments listed in this article have helped heal a lot of people without needing to see a doctor. Doctors often suggest rest, stretching, icing, orthotics, and supportive shoes. If none of these approaches work, then might suggest other options.
Steroid injections. There is a steroid injection that is commonly used to treat plantar fasciitis, but it does have its setbacks. There are an awful lot of people who just don't seem to benefit from these shots for very long. You might feel great for a couple weeks or so, but the effects eventually wear off and you're left with that familiar pain that you know all too well. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be paying for something that isn't going to solve the issue. But if you're going on vacation or something of that nature, and you need pain relief for a short time, then the shot may be worth your time and money. But the shot also does have its risks, including thinning of the foot pad, and possible tearing or rupture of the plantar fascia.
Surgery. There is also the option of a surgery, which is called a plantar fascia release. But it is always considered a last resort option, to be considered only after nothing else has worked. It also has possible complications including permanent nerve damage, infection, and a rare possibility of worsening symptoms. Discuss all options with your health care professional, and when in doubt, don't be afraid to get a second opinion.
A Final Word
In closing, please realize that even though plantar fasciitis is painful, persistent, and can drag on for awhile, there are many ways to heal yourself. The trick is to find what works for you. Trial and error. Some of these approaches might not work for you personally, but all it takes is one or two things that do work for you, and you will be on your way to recovery. I hope that this article has helped!
Helpful Websites for Plantar Fasciitis
- 6 Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints - Plantar Fasciitis Resource
A great read for people interested in trying a night splint! Lots of pros and cons, and very helpful statistics
- Best Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis in 2016
This link will show some of the best shoes for battling plantar fasciitis. A great shoe goes a long way toward providing the relief you need.