By Saddie Krehbiel ATC, LAT
Plantar fasciitis is a very common and painful problem that many athletes and nonathletes face1. Plantar fasciitis is a “catchall” term meaning, it can be caused from different things1. Usually what happens is tension develops in the arch of the foot (the plantar fascia) during extension of the toes and during weight bearing1. Too much tension and stress on the fascia from running, standing too long, weight gain, inadequate arch support from shoes, creates small tears in the fascia. Repetitive tearing causes the fascia to become irritated or inflamed.
A common symptom of patients is pain around their heel that eventually moves to the center part of the foot1. Pain is increased when you first step out of bed in the morning, or when you stand after sitting for a long period of time1. Pain typically will lessen after a few steps.
How do you treat your plantar fasciitis? There are a few easy steps you can take at home to help manage the pain and get rid of the problem. The first goal is to decrease the inflammation and pain. This can be done by using the acronym RICE, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation1.
o Rest: Don’t push yourself too hard and give your feet the chance to heal and rest for a couple days.
o Ice: Ice is important in decreasing the pain and inflammation1. Fill a water bottle with water and freeze it and use it to roll your foot on. You can also ice your foot while it is elevated as well.
o Compression: An ace bandage wrap or compression socks may help decrease swelling and help decrease pain when walking and standing.
o Elevation: Keeping your foot elevated while resting is important to decrease swelling.
You can also use a small ball like a baseball or golf ball to massage the foot by rolling it around on the ground. Look into purchasing new shoes that have better arch support or insoles for the shoes you wear now. If you need help finding what is best for you, find a running store that has knowledgeable staff on cushioning, arches, and the heel to toe drop of the shoe. Using a towel or band to pull the foot back and stretch the fascia is a good stretch to help manage pain1.
It can take time to heal and reduce the pain. However, if the pain persists longer than 3 or more weeks contact your doctor or go see a sport orthopedic physician and they may be able to recommend rehab or other treatment methods.
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1. Prentice WE. Principles of Athletic Training. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014.
2. Plantar Fasciitis.” Mayo Clinic, 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846.
3. Toe Flexion and Extension.” Musculoskeletal Key, Manual Therapist, 2016, musculoskeletalkey.com/anatomy-and-physiology/.