A Pain in the Foot: Practical Home Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
What’s with this heel pain?
That was my first thought one morning the first time I felt that vicious pain on my heel and had extreme difficulty taking a step. I literally thought it was something that would go away naturally if I just ignore it. But it hasn’t. It was only later when I found out it was plantar fasciitis.
Just what is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition characterized by an inflammation in the foot ligaments that extend from the heel to the toes (called the plantar fascia). This causes pain in one—or both—heels. There could, of course, be other causes of heel pain such as arthritis, stress fracture, nerve irritation, tendonitis, or even a cyst. But in this blog, we’re talking about plantar fasciitis.
People who have very flat feet or highly arched feet, or those holding a job that requires them to be on their feet for long hours are more predisposed to developing this condition.
How do you know when you have it?
You’ll feel the pain and or swelling on the bottom of your heel or in the arch of your foot. The pain intensifies after a few months and is usually felt more keenly upon rising after sitting for long periods of time. It’s equally painful after spending a long time on your feet. I personally think the pain is worse when you get out of bed in the morning, which makes it very hard to walk.
The good news is—you don’t have to grin and bear it!
While extreme cases will require the use of drugs and/or surgeries, plantar fasciitis can actually be addressed with home remedies. It’s always best to treat the pain as soon as it occurs, rather than wait until it’s severe.
1. Get some rest
Many times, experiencing heel pain is a sign that you need to rest your feet. This is especially true if you do high-impact workouts or spend a lot of time on your feet. A few days’ rest will help diminish the inflammation and allow your foot to recover. Instead of performing activities that would exacerbate the pain on your foot, try to engage in some low-impact activities like swimming.
2. Apply an Ice pack
This is an effective way to treat inflammation. Just wrap a cloth/towel around a bag filled with crushed ice and place it against your heel for 15 minutes, at least three times a day.
You can also soak your heel on a pan with water and ice for up to 15 minutes three times a day. Do your best to keep your toes off the water!
Doing stretches and light exercises will help. Stretch out those calves and Achilles tendon along with the bottom of your foot. Perform exercises that will strengthen your lower leg and foot muscles. This can help support your ankle, alleviate pain, and keep plantar fasciitis at bay.
4. Use some support
Don’t let the pain sideline you! Here are some ways you can provide your foot with support to ease pain and discomfort:
Insoles - Shoe inserts such as insoles, orthotics, and arch support provide added support and extra cushion. These can be bought over-the-counter.
Athletic tape –I usually wrap my foot with this before I go to bed at night. An athletic tape keeps your foot from moving around, which will worsen your plantar fasciitis.
Heel cups - Each step you take puts a strain on your heel and plantar fascia. These pads elevate your heel, offer extra cushion, and ease the strain on them.
Simple massage techniques can relieve the pain in your heel. Massage your heel and arch using your thumb, from the ball of your foot to your heel. If you want to get a little creative, try using a golf ball to massage your arch by rolling the ball under it. You can also try massaging lavender essential oil into the bottom of your feet to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory properties.
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Should you see a doctor?
If home treatments don’t work, we always recommend consulting your physician. They may want to do some tests to rule out other possible causes of your foot pain, or even recommend physical therapy or medication.