The plantar fascia is a dense band of tissue that connects the toes and the heel. It becomes swollen or inflamed when subjected to substantial stress on the arch of the foot. Most cases of plantar fasciitis typically recover with the help of conservative treatment over a span of a few months.
Once an individual experiences pain in the heel or sole of one or both feet particularly upon waking up in the morning, there are several home treatments that can help reduce the pain. In case there is no improvement after 2 weeks or there is swelling, tingling, numbness or reddening in the toes, heel or feet, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.
When the individual experiences intense pain, he/she must avoid using the feet and allow them to rest for several hours a day to reduce the strain placed on the plantar fascia. Once the individual is able to resume his/her exercise routine, it is vital to avoid over exercising again.
If possible, the individual must reduce the distance covered while running or walking or simply switch to a low-impact activity such as cycling or swimming to avoid straining the plantar fascia.
Application of ice
You can apply an ice pack to the sore area at 3-4 times in a day for up to 20 minutes to help reduce the pain and inflammation. A massage can be performed on the affected heel and sole using an ice cube several times in a day.
Stretching exercises are recommended in order to minimize the tension throughout the arch of the foot. The individual must warm up first and gently stretch without bouncing. Perform at least 2-3 sets of each exercise every day for 6-7 days in a week. Heel stretches, calf stretches and arch stretches can help reduce the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
The over-the-counter arch supports work by relieving the tension on the plantar fascia, calf muscles and the Achilles tendon by redistributing the weight during movement. At the present, some manufacturers provide options that have built-in magnets, but there is still no proof that these are effective than those that do not have magnets.
Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and inflammation due to plantar fasciitis. A doctor should be consulted first if the individual is in doubt
Support for the feet
It is important to note that the feet are subjected to substantial pressure on a daily basis, thus making them susceptible to injuries. It is recommended to use protective and supportive shoes to promote good foot health, especially if it has been injured. Remember that the shoes used must have low to moderate heel, good arch and adequate heel support. In addition, avoid walking barefoot even inside the house and avoid using flip-flops, ballet flats and worn out running shoes.
There are commercially available night splints that work by stretching the plantar fascia while the individual sleeps. The use of these splints at night helps promote the healing of the tissues.