It is probably best for us to start at the beginning and explain what plantar fasciitis is before we get into what not to do. Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory heel condition affecting the large ligament-type structure in the base of the foot that can cause arch pain and heel pain. The plantar fascia can become thick and inflamed due to irritation at its attachment or at the base of the heel bone.
In some people, small tears can develop and these people suffer from acute pain that can be excruciating. Sometimes, on x-ray, heel spurs (bone spurs) can be seen, but these are not usually the cause of the patient’s heel pain. In this blog, we will cover a few of the top things you shouldn’t do for plantar fasciitis along with some exercises you can do to deal with foot pain.
Don’t Ignore Foot Pain
It is important to pay attention to your body and what it is telling you about pain. If your feet are hurting, think back to what you did that day and if there was something that happened to cause the pain. If the pain is persistent, don’t ignore it especially if it is foot pain. It can be a sign of a bigger problem.
One of those problems can be plantar fasciitis. You might be wondering what does plantar fasciitis feel like? People with plantar fasciitis usually feel pain under the ball of the heel and in some cases, it can represent a bruise sensation. Arch pain is less common and a key symptom of plantar fasciitis. This heel pain can be common first thing in the morning when climbing out of bed and after periods of rest, such as driving or being seated.
The pain in the heel can be erratic and often, there are pain-free periods when you may feel like it is healing. If there is a very sudden onset of pain, as opposed to a gradual onset, this may be due to tearing of the plantar fascia. If you experience that sudden heel pain, it is important to seek medical advice from a physician.
Don’t Think You are Too Young for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis has the common misconception that only people of a certain age are affected by this foot ailment. This is not the case. While plantar fasciitis is more common as we age, it can affect people of all ages. Plantar fasciitis presents slightly differently in adults compared to children.
Plantar Fasciitis in Adults
Plantar fasciitis can affect men and women equally, but there is a trend in terms of the age of the patients that seek treatment for plantar fasciitis. Fewer people younger than 30 years of age develop the condition, and the majority of people with the condition are over 60. Between those ages, there is a large percentage of male and female patients in their 40s and 50s.
Often in adults, we see that sedentary people who haven’t exercised for some time, who enter a get fit health program of sorts, and those who join a boot camp, will often develop pain in the heel or Achilles tendon, namely plantar fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, or Bursitis. This is due to an increase in usage and impact on the feet that the body is not accustomed to. As with any new exercise regimen, your body will have an adjustment period and it may even result in some pain in the process.
Plantar Fasciitis in Children
Again, while not common we do see occasional cases of juvenile-onset plantar fasciitis which affects children who are engaged in sports and physical activity. It is important to consult a doctor to help differentiate between other heel pain conditions such as Severs disease and Achilles Tendonitis. Typically a sports podiatrist will have extensive experience in these conditions and can determine which one your child has, by carrying out a careful physical examination.
Often plantar fasciitis in children can be handled with foot splints such as a pair of foot alignment socks, a change in footwear or even taking a break from the activity to let the foot heal naturally.
Don’t Leave Plantar Fasciitis Untreated
One of the biggest misconceptions about plantar fasciitis is that it will just go away. While this can be the case in very mild situations, often a doctor will recommend some type of treatment or stretching program for the foot. If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can result in the need for periods of physical therapy or surgery in severe cases. When pain in your foot persists it is always important to consult a doctor and when foot pain is dealt with early it can often be resolved at home with some simple stretching and strengthening exercises.
Some common plantar fasciitis treatments may include:
- Stretching with a pair of foot alignment socks
- Rest from exercising and walking
- Use of an immobilization boot
- Footwear changes or recommendations with strapping and stretching
- Custom-tailored prescription orthotics (gentle arches)
- Foot exercises to stretch and strengthen
Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help ensure that the muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase the range of motion in the feet, helping keep a person active for as long as possible. A few of these simple foot stretches can reduce tension in the foot and calf. This offers both rapid pain relief and a steady improvement of symptoms over time. Below are three easy at-home exercises to treat plantar fasciitis.
Stretching the Plantar Fascia
- To relieve muscle tightness in the plantar fascia or bottom of the foot, we recommend trying the following plantar fasciitis exercise:
- Sitting on a chair, cross the injured heel over the other leg
- Hold the foot in your opposite hand
- Pull the toes toward the shin to create tension in the arch of the foot
- Place the other hand on the bottom of the foot to feel for tension in the plantar fascia
- Use a towel to grasp and stretch the foot if it is difficult to hold otherwise
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Repeat two to three times
Tennis ball or frozen water bottle rolls
- For this exercise, you’ll need a tennis ball or a frozen water bottle. If you don’t have a ball handy, you can use a water bottle or other cylindrical object instead. Take the following steps to perform this foot exercise:
- Sit in a chair and place the ball under your affected foot.
- Roll the ball back and forth under the arch of your foot so that you can stretch out the plantar fascia ligament making this a great plantar fasciitis stretch.
- Continue rolling for three to five minutes. You can do this stretch twice a day.
- The strength within your foot is important for relieving and preventing foot pain. Flexing the foot increases blood flow to the area and relieves tension in the calves, which can help with foot pain. This exercise uses an elastic stretch band, which people can buy from sports stores or online. To perform this foot exercise use the following steps:
- Sit on the floor with legs straight
- Wrap the elastic band around your foot, holding the ends in your hands
- Gently point the toes away from the body
- Slowly return to starting position
- Repeat 10 times
For some additional foot exercises, our team has put together a list of the Top 10 Foot Exercises for foot pain relief. These can all be done from the comfort of your own home.
If these exercises seem like too much work, you can always try out a pair of our foot alignment socks to stretch your feet, align those toes and provide some much-needed foot pain relief. Then kick up your feet and let My Happy Feet socks do some of these exercises for you.
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