Did you know that plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain? That’s because the plantar fascia is the flat band of ligament tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and if it becomes strained, it becomes swollen and irritated. And that is very painful. Some patients describe the feeling as if someone is hammering nails into their heel. To help ease the pain, Dr. John Viscovich, a podiatrist with Westchester Health, outlines 7 treatments you can do yourself to lessen and maybe even eliminate this condition.
7 home-remedy treatments for plantar fasciitis
- Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. Less weight to support will minimize the stress on your plantar fascia.
- Wear supportive shoes. Choose shoes with a low to moderate heel, excellent arch support and good shock absorbency.
- Do not go barefoot, especially on hard surfaces, and avoid high heels.
- Do not wear worn-out athletic shoes. Replace old, non-supportive athletic shoes. If you’re a runner, buy new shoes every 500 miles.
- Change your sport. Try a low-impact sport, such as swimming or bicycling, instead of sports such as basketball, tennis or running.
- Apply ice. Hold a cloth-covered ice pack over the painful area for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day or after athletic activity.
- Stretch your arches. Your lower legs, calves, ankles and feet need to be stretched daily — even better, several times a day.
Massage. While sitting, roll a tennis ball around under your foot to massage the area. A frozen water bottle also works well.
- Rest. Your feet need time off from whatever is causing the plantar fasciitis. Stop or cut back on whatever activity you feel might be triggering the pain.
Additional treatments you can try
The following treatments are also very effective:
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can show you a series of exercises to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen lower leg muscles, all of which will stabilize your ankle and heel.
- Night splints. You can wear a splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep. This holds the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight which helps stretch them.
- Wear arch supports. Custom-fitted arch supports (orthotics) or OTC heel cups or cushions help distribute pressure to the feet more evenly.
The causes of plantar fasciitis
Sports or activities that place a lot of stress on your heel and attached tissue — such as long-distance running, ballet dancing and dance aerobics — can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Here are additional causes that may increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis:
- Your age. Plantar fasciitis is most common 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.
- 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 work hours walking or standing on hard surfaces.
If you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis pain
If you think (or know) that you have plantar fasciitis, make an appointment to come see me at one of my Westchester Health offices. I’ll examine your heels, ankles and feet, evaluate your condition, and together with you, determine the best course of treatment to alleviate and hopefully, eliminate your pain. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.