I've recently become very interested in finding strategies for treating plantar fasciitis, because after months of extreme pain, the Better Half finally took herself off to the doctor and got herself diagnosed with it. Lots of things can cause or exacerbate plantar fasciitis, including problems with the arch of your foot, such as high arches and flat feet, weight gain, running, issues with your Achilles tendon, and shoes that don't have adequate support. Runners frequently suffer from this painful problem as well, especially if they change up their routes and end up running on declines or uneven and rough surfaces. Plantar fasciitis presents with pain, of course, usually located on the heel and/or the arch, along with stiffness. You probably notice that your foot hurts worse when you've been off your feet for a while – when you first get up, after sitting for a long time, going up the stairs, and after any kind of extreme activity. Painful as this issue is, there are tips for treating plantar fasciitis that will ease your pain and improve the health of your poor foot.
1. Check Your Shoes
The shoes you wear can either exacerbate or treat plantar fasciitis. Flip flops, flats with no support, incredibly high heels, and shoes that have no real shock absorbers or support can all contribute to the pain of plantar fasciitis. If you've been diagnosed or simply suspect you're at risk, make sure your shoes offer you plenty of arch support, absorb shocks, and have comfortable, cushioning soles. Try to avoid flip flops as much as possible, because the way you have to grip with your toes can erase all attempts at treating plantar fasciitis.
2. Now Wear Them
You have to actually wear your shoes as well. WebMD advises sufferers to put their shoes on the second they step out of bed. Going bare foot or simply wearing socks can be just as bad as wearing flip flops or shoes that otherwise lack support. You shouldn't rely on slippers either, but there's an exception here: if your slippers are firm, have good arch support, and plenty of cushion, they may be okay.
3. Put Your Feet up
Don't feel guilty about resting your feet. Putting your feet up is one of the best things you can do. Give your feet a rest, and try to take a break from any specific activities that exacerbate your pain. If you're a runner, this might be hard. The good news is that you can still run if you want to, you should simply stay away from hard, unforgiving surfaces, such as concrete.
4. Ice, Ice Baby
Ice is excellent for plantar fasciitis. Soak your feet in cold water, roll a frozen water bottle back and forth along your arch and your heel, or simply use an ice pack. Any of these options will reduce inflammation and soothe the pain in your foot.
5. Avoid Heat
Heat, however, is a no-no. Beyond the first few days of diagnosis and/or intense pain, when it's okay to use a heating pad, you should avoid high heat because it can make your foot hurt worse. The one exception involves contrast baths, wherein you alternate hot water with cold water. The thing is, make sure your last go-round in the bath involves the cold water.
6. Exercise Even when It Hurts
There are numerous exercises for plantar fasciitis that really do help. Even the trick with the frozen water bottle counts. However, you can also do toe stretches or calf stretches. You'll get a lot of relief from towel or belt stretches, where you loop a towel or similar item around the arch of your foot, take the ends in either hand, and pull. It will hurt at first, but it's worth it.
7. Get a Massage
Lastly, treat yourself to a foot massage. You can technically get a pedicure, but you should let your technician know that you can't abide by hot water. Better still, go to a spa or even ask your partner to give you a firm yet gentle foot massage that focuses on the arch, heel, and ankle of your afflicted foot.
The most important thing to remember is consistency. You have to do your exercises! Don't skip too many days, even if it feels like a hassle. Your feet have to carry you all through life, so you need to take care of them. Have you ever had plantar fasciitis? If you have any preventative tips or treatment methods to share, I'd love to hear them!