Not only is plantar fasciitis a very painful condition, it’s the most common cause of heel pain that I see in my patients. Whether it’s caused by flat arches, badly-fitting shoes or a job that keeps you on your feet for hours every day, the pain of plantar fasciitis can be excruciating. Some patients say it feels like someone is hammering nails into their heel. To lessen the pain of this condition and maybe eliminate it altogether, I offer these 10 home remedy treatments you can do yourself.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the flat band of ligament tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. If it becomes strained, this tissue becomes swollen and irritated.
Plantar fasciitis pain is usually worst first thing in the morning when you get out of bed and your feet hit the floor, but it can also be triggered by standing up from a seated position or by standing for long periods of time. Strenuous sports or activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue, such as long-distance running, basketball, ballet dancing and dance aerobics, can also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
Additional factors that may increase your risk of developing it:
- Your age. Plantar fasciitis is most common in those between the ages of 40 and 60.
- The natural construction of your foot. Being flat-footed, having a high arch or an abnormal pattern of walking increases your risk.
- Being overweight. Excess pounds put extra stress on your plantar fascia.
- Occupations that keep you on your feet. Factory workers, waiters/waitresses, chefs, nurses, pharmacists, teachers and others who spend most of their working hours walking or standing on hard surfaces have an increased incidence of plantar fasciitis.
10 things you can do at home to lessen your heel pain
Here are 10 treatments from Healthline that you can do on your own to alleviate and even prevent this painful condition:
- Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. Less weight that your feet and ankles need to support will decrease the stress on your plantar fascia.
- Wear supportive shoes. Choose shoes with a low to moderate heel, substantial arch support and good shock absorbency.
- Do not go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces.
- Avoid high heels.
- Do not wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace old, worn, non-supportive athletic shoes. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes every 500 miles.
- Consider changing your sport. Instead a high-impact sport like basketball, tennis or running, try something low-impact like swimming or bicycling.
- Apply ice. Place a cloth-covered ice pack over the painful area for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day or after athletic activity. You can also try filling a paper cup with water and freezing it, then rolling the ice over the area until the pain subsides.
- Stretch your arches daily. Your lower legs, calves, ankles and feet need to be stretched several times a day.
- Massage your foot, arches and heels. While sitting, put your foot on top of a tennis ball and roll it under and around your foot, pressing hard.
- Get off your feet. Your feet need a rest from whatever is causing the plantar fasciitis. If possible, stop or cut back on whatever activity you feel might be causing the pain.
By following these treatments, your plantar fasciitis should become less painful and hopefully after a few weeks of icing, massaging, stretching and resting, it may go away altogether.
Additional treatments to try
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can show you several exercises that stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen lower leg muscles, all of which will stabilize your ankle and heel, helping alleviate the condition and reduce the pain.
- Night splints. Wearing a splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep will keep the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight, which helps stretch them.
- Wear arch supports in your shoes.
- Get custom-fitted arch supports (orthotics) or over-the-counter heel cups or heel cushions to help distribute pressure to the feet more evenly.
Read my other podiatry blogs
I’ve written a number of informative blogs about a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions, which you can read here.
If you think you have plantar fasciitis, come see me
If you’re experiencing pain in one or both of your heels which you think might be plantar fasciitis, or you have any concerns about your feet, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment to see me, a Westchester Health podiatrist. I’ll examine your feet, arches, heels and ankles, evaluate your condition, and together with you, determine the best course of treatment to alleviate and hopefully, eliminate your pain. Most of all, my goal is for you and your feet to be healthy and pain-free. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
By John B. Viscovich, DPM, MBA, FACFAS, a Podiatrist with Westchester Health, member of Northwell Health Physician Partners