Alternative Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis – a Technical Description
Fasciitis is an inflammation of the fascia, which is a ligamentous connective tissue. Plantar refers to the bottom surface of the foot and is analogous to the palmar surface of the hand. If you have pain when you take your first few steps in the morning, that’s symptomatic of plantar fasciitis. The pain can be felt anywhere between the heel and the ball of the foot along the longitudinal arch.
Who is Prone to Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is most common in those who overpronate, such as in week-footed or flat-footed runners. Or, conversely, it occurs in those with an excessively high, rigid arch with a tight Achilles tendon. This can also be caused by overuse/overtraining symptoms in your running training.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
The good news is that the condition is treatable, with rest, exercises, and taping or a Night sling. During the acute stage, use an ice massage on the plantar surface of the foot from the ball of the foot to the heel, in 15 to 20-minute periods repeated (twice per day). Anti-inflammatory aids (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen may be helpful, along with rest from the aggravating activity. Since the toes tend to creep during the night (i.e. curl up), the first several steps when the arch is stretched can be particularly uncomfortable. You can wear a night split to prevent this, available from any orthopedics supply store or at Amazon.com
Stretch a little bit and put on slippers before starting to walk in the morning or if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
Stretching exercises of the deep and superficial calf muscles and the heel cord are suggested. One that is particularly helpful is what my wife calls her “up downs.” I call them Toe Raises. To do Up Downs (or Toe Raises) correctly, stand facing a stair step with the balls of your feet on the stair and your heels suspended. Rise up on the balls of your feet such as in standing on your toes, lower until your heels are lower than the stair and you feel slight stretch in the Achilles (heel) tendon. Hold. Raise up quickly, lower slowly and hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do this exercise a couple more times during the day. Add repetitions, say one per day, until you are doing 30 repetitions per set.
During the time that you are rehabilitating from plantar fasciitis, you will want an alternative cardiovascular conditioning exercise. I have had great success with pool running, treading water while running in deep water. Although you can do this without a life preserver or belt, I like to use the Aquajogger belts. There is a variety to choose from.
Of course, if the condition persists or worsens, you will want to talk to an orthopedist, podiatrist, physical therapist, or athletic trainer.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Treating Plantar Fasciitis with Stretching
The simplest way to treat plantar fasciitis is to stretch the calf muscle. The calf muscle is responsible for pulling up on the heel during the beginning of your stride. When this muscles become tight and stays tight all day (or all night), it pulls on the heel stressing the plantar fascia. Stretching keeps the calves loose and allows for the plantar fascia to remain in a neutral position.
There are a variety of stretches you can do to stretch the calf muscle. The easiest way is to find a stair or step and (preferably while wearing shoes) hang the heel off of the stair so that the ball of the foot is supporting the weight. Slowly allow your weight to lower the heel so that the calf is stretched and feels a little bit of strain.
To get a better stretch, many people rave about heel stretching devices such as the Prostretch Heel Stretch Device. This device provides a precise angle at which to bend your foot so that you get the best stretch. It also avoids some of the problems inherent with stair and wall stretches. Some people have reported that they believe this device cured plantar fasciitis faster and more effectively than just regular stretching.
Treating Plantar Fasciitis by Taping
Plantar fasciitis taping is cheap and effective way to relieve the pressure from the plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis taping is a fairly easy procedure, using kinesio tape or even regular medical tape, tape an “X” over the bottom of the foot so that the cross is just beyond the heel on the arch. This X will keep the plantar fascia from flexing too much during running. Tape over the X to secure it in place and you’re ready to run. While it’s never advisable to run on an injury, taping the fascia can be a simple fix if the injury is in its early stages, meaning you can keep training without the injury getting any worse.
Treating Plantar Fascia with Splints and Socks
Many people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have extreme pain during the morning when they first get out of bed. This is because the calves naturally tighten overnight, and an injured fascia will be stressed when your weight flexes the tendon. While this is usually only for the first few steps in the morning, severe cases can be painful the entire day. For this level of fasciitis, you can use a night splint or even a night sock to keep the foot slightly flexed which keeps the fascia in a neutral position. It also keeps the calves stretched so that they aren’t pulling up on the plantar fascia so hard. There are a variety of splints out there, and even some funny-looking socks, that will keep the foot flexed. Many online retailers caries a wide variety of night splints which have different features depending on the use and your preference.