How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is known for what is called the "first step pain". It's a horrible foot pain on your first step out of bed in the morning. The “itis” in Plantar Fasciitis implies inflammation, but it is actually far more similar to tendinopathy, which has little to no inflammation at all.
Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people. It also occurs in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes, teachers, nurses or soldiers. It can happen in one foot or both feet.
There are a couple of things that play into this pain.
The soft tissues of the foot tighten up overnight as you are off your feet and then go under a rapid stretch as you step out of bed.
As you move around throughout the day, your nervous system gets used to the pressure of weight bearing. But when you go off your feet all night, it kind of resensitizes so that first weight bearing step is a little bit of a shock to the system, which for an overloaded tissue, can be perceived as threatening and set off a pain signal.
There are a few options your doctor could try to ease your pain and reduce inflammation in your foot.
These may include:
- Prescribe NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that will help with reducing pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia.
- Steroid injection into the most painful part of your plantar fascia. It may help ease your pain for about a month, But it will keep the inflammation down for even longer than that.
- Surgery operation to takes your plantar fascia off of your heel bone.
- Shock-wave therapy that “shocks” the plantar fascia with sound waves and stimulates blood flow in the foot and helps the tissue heal.
- Tenex procedure where a small cut and an ultrasound is used to target and remove scar tissue.
- Physiotherapy. If medication, rest, and ice don't help enough, your doctor might recommend that you go to a physiotherapy session.
How to treat Plantar Fasciitis on my own?
A study by Rathleff et al compared heavy loading to stretching. The heavy loading group improved faster and it this showed that the plantar fascia will, in fact, respond to strengthening work.
This routine is built off of those two factors and looks to ease you into weight bearing.
1) The stretch helps loosen up any tightness that might have set in in the foot overnight.
The set up requires the toes up into dorsiflexion. This can be achieved with a rolled up towel/face washer.
Raise up with control, hold at the top for approximately 2 seconds, and then slowly lower taking approx 2-3 seconds to come down. Give the following program a go:
- Week 1: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Weeks 2 & 3: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Weeks 4+: 5 sets of 8 reps
Once able you can add more load by holding a kettlebell/dumbbell or wheeling a heavy backpack
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2) The rolling acts as a desensitizing measure by allowing you to control pressure on the foot.
Take a sturdy ball (cannot be soft) like tennis for example.
- Place the floor and support the sole of the foot on top of it.
- Press a certain amount of pressure and make forward and backward movements, circular motion, and flexion and extension movements of the fingers.
- For 1 to 2 times a day, there is no exact amount.
Do not perform if you feel a lot of pain because you may be in the inflammatory phase.
Use of Gel insoles to elevate your pain
How long will it take for the pain to go away?
Plantar fasciitis occurs because of injuries that have happened over time. With treatment, the pain will be reduced within a few weeks. However, it may take time for the pain to go away completely. It may take a few months to a year.
The sooner you start treatment, the sooner your feet will stop hurting.