By: Dr. Stephanie Duffey • Mar 02, 2020
If you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, you know how stubborn and tricky this ailment can be! In this post, I’ll break down the root causes and share my tips for managing the discomfort and eliminating the problem for good.
WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
You have a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia, which stretches from the bottom part of the heel to the toes. This tissue is designed to give your foot extra stability, but sometimes it can get irritated. You may notice sharp and intense heel pain in one or both of your feet when you get up in the morning, or when you stand up and walk after sitting for a while. These are common signs that you may be experiencing plantar fasciitis.
WHAT’S THE CAUSE?
The pain you’re experiencing is the result of irritation in the plantar fascia. But what’s causing this irritation? Likely, you have other areas in your body that are too tight, too loose, or too weak. This could be another area in the foot, leg, or even the core. Finding out why you’re experiencing this discomfort is the most challenging part and allows me as a physical therapist to play detective. It’s always my goal to get at the root cause of the issue to keep people out of pain long-term.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Other than identifying what caused the irritation in the first place, here are some of my other tips for managing plantar fasciitis:
- Get a frozen plastic water bottle, freeze it, and roll your foot on it using moderate pressure a few times a day. This loosens the tissue and the ice cuts inflammation. You can also use a tennis or lacrosse ball.
- Stretch your calves with the knee straight and then bent, or use a foam roller. Tightness and trigger points in the calf can be a contributing factor and refer pain to the heel so it’s extra important to stretch this area.
- Stretch the plantar fascia by crossing the ankle over your knee and pulling your toes backward. This is a great way to loosen up the bottom of your foot
- Get a supportive, pronation-control shoe. Plantar fasciitis pain can come from excessive or quick pronation. Find a shoe that works for you and use inserts as a secondary supplement.
- Try a night splint or sock that pulls the toes up to give a long duration stretch while you sleep. This can be uncomfortable so I recommend you build your way up. Start with a few hours and gradually work up to the whole night. It usually takes about 3 months to get the full benefit.
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, my biggest piece of advice is to do something ASAP. The longer it’s irritated, the longer it takes to treat and calm down. Need help from an expert? Let’s chat!