Have your feet been feeling more sore or irritated lately? Do you ever wake up in the morning and experience sharp pains as soon as you get out of bed? Or maybe you have been experiencing a dull, achey pain under your heel that seems to get worse throughout the day? You aren’t alone. We have been seeing an increased amount of patients with these symptoms recently, as more and more people are working from home, the more we see people choosing to forgo shoes or throw on a pair of old, well-loved house slippers leading to a number of foot, knee, and back troubles. In this blog we will break down what plantar fasciitis is, explain our top 3 general tips for helping treat plantar fasciitis, and help lessen your foot pain!
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation and irritation of the plantar fascia (a thick fibrous tissue that extends from the heel and goes all the way to the toes). Poor foot posture or excessive ankle motion while walking can strain the plantar fascia resulting in small tears and increased tension where the fascia attaches to the heel.
The degree of discomfort (or pain) each person experiences can often lessen with activity during the day or after “warming up”, or it can quickly become worse if prolonged, vigorous activity is undertaken.
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include: mechanical stress and microtrauma associated with obesity/sudden weight gain, repetitive occupational related activity, anatomical factors such as flat feet or high arches, and reduced ankle range of motion.
Fun Fact: Plantar fasciitis can occur on just one foot!
Top 3 Tips for Treating Plantar Fasciitis
If there is one thing we have learned from treating so many people with plantar fasciitis, it is that every case is unique. There is no single miracle cure but rather a progression of treatment options to try. Just like every great chef, you will have to play and experiment with different treatment modalities in order to create the perfect treatment ‘recipe’ to help relieve your pain. Having said that, here are some general tips and tricks that may help you find some relief and help heal your plantar fasciitis.
Tip: For an individualized plan, we recommend booking an assessment with one of our Pedorthist, they have the knowledge and expertise to make recommendations that will serve you best.
- Movement is medicine
You can reduce your morning pain and pain after rest significantly with some simple yet effective foot stretches done first thing in the morning before you get out of bed or before standing. These exercises help by warming up the range of motion in your foot as well as breaking down the scar tissue to prevent re-tearing of the tissues.Here are our favourite exercises for plantar fasciitis:
- Ankle Alphabet – Sitting on the edge of your bed with your leg extended, knee straight, make slow and controlled circles with your foot as if you are writing each letter of the alphabet. Go through the alphabet.
- Seated Calf Stretch – Hook a belt or towel around your forefoot/toes and use it to pull your foot toward you while keeping your knee straight. Hold for 30 seconds, switch sides. Repeat the same stretch but with your knee slightly flexed this time to feel the stretch lower in your
- Rolling the Arch – Place a massage roller, tennis ball or a favourite rolling product under the affected foot. Starting at the heel, roll your foot over the ball while pushing downward, continue this motion for 1 minute.
- Towel Scrunches – while you are seated, place your foot on a towel, then try to pull the towel towards you using your toes, making sure your heel remains on the floor. Repeat this action for 1-2 minutes.
- Toe Extensions – Place the affected foot across the opposite knee, cup your heel with one hand and grasp the toes with the other. Pull your toes toward your shin until you feel a light stretch within your arch. Hold for 10-15 seconds, repeat 5 times.
We understand you may not have the time to do all of these stretches every time, but do as many as you can as often as you can throughout the day, especially when you have been sitting for a long period of time!
- What you do or do not put on your feet is important
The first few steps you take in the morning set the foundation for the day’s recovery, what you do or do not put on your feet is important. By placing your bare-feet on hard flooring or into an old, beat-up pair of house slippers you can actually re-tear the plantar fascia and regress the healing that occurred over night. Having a supportive slipper (or sandal) to wear around the house is crucial in the initial stages of treating plantar fasciitis.
It is also a good time to look at your other shoes and see if it is time to begin replacing some of them for options that are going to support you better.
Walking barefoot on hard surfaces or wearing unsupportive shoes are one of the worst things you could possibly do while struggling with plantar fasciitis, period.
Tip: Book an appointment with one of our team members and let one of our shoe specialists find the right shoes for you!
- Sometimes we just need a little help from a friend (or insole)
If after starting a good stretching/exercise routine and replacing worn out shoes you still aren’t getting any relief from your pain, it may be time to consider trying an over-the-counter insole or custom foot orthotics. Wearing an insole or orthotic, that has been properly fit to your foot, can help to redistribute pressure along the plantar fascia, allowing it time to heal.
Depending on your gait mechanics and foot type, an over-the-counter insole may be sufficient enough to decrease the tension on their plantar fascia. If generic options are not helping enough, then custom orthotics may be the next step!
A custom foot orthotic is made from a three-dimensional model of the patient’s foot and is fabricated from raw materials. It is designed to meet the patient’s unique and specific needs. Because we make all our orthotics in-house, we can use a vast variety of materials to provide specific support and cushioning for increased function and comfort.
Tip: If you aren’t sure if you should try over-the-counter or custom foot orthotics, you can book an appointment with one of our Canadian Certified Pedorthists to help you.
Other Treatment Options
While we find our top 3 tips for treating plantar fasciitis are the most universal, there are multiple different types of treatment that can all work together to help plantar fasciitis.
To learn more about other modalities, read our blog: Top 10 Tools for Plantar Fasciitis!