If you’re like most people, you try to avoid pain as much as possible. But at some point you’ll have to deal with itespecially when you’re a runner and you develop plantar fasciitis. This is the most common cause of heel pain, affecting as many as 10% of runners, other athletes, and workers like food servers and bellhops who stand and walk all day. It’s exacerbated when you are using the wrong pair of shoes. The good news is, curing plantar fasciitis yourself is possible if you know the right techniques to use.
Inside the bottom part of your feet, you have a band of tissue called the plantar fascia that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. It functions as support for your arches, and it also helps absorb the shock of repeated impact when you run and jump constantly.
The problem is that when you run and jump on hard surfaces on a regular basis, this can cause tiny tears on the plantar fascia. This part of your body doesn’t really heal all that quickly, so these tears accumulate over time. Even if you just stand on your feet all day, plus bearing the excess weight that’s become all too common these days, can lead to the inflammation of the plantar fascia.
It gets worse when you’re an athlete, particularly if part of your regular training is to repeatedly pound your feet on hard surfaces. It gets worse when you don’t have the right shoes, or you insist on walking barefoot or using flat slippers. You increase your chances of getting injured when you have tight calf muscles due to improper or lack of stretching.
The Pain of Plantar Fasciitis
Pain is the most notable facet of this injury. It all starts very gradually as you add up the tiny tears on the band of tissue. You won’t feel it at first when you’re exercising. You’ll instead feel it after you exercise. It’s so slight a pain in the beginning that it’s easy to ignore. It’s just normal after a vigorous exercise or right after a hard game of tennis or basketball, right?
Not quite. That particular mild pain you feel at your heel bone is called a stone bruise, and it’s just the beginning your problem. It can affect a single foot, but it can also affect both feet. For some, the pain can be considered a dull ache. Others feel it as a sharp pain that seems like a stabbing wound. And then there are also people who regard it like a burning pain on the bottom of their feet which shoots outward from the heel.
Then you’ll notice that the pain occurs after sitting for too long, and that’s common for office types who work at a desk. Others have the pain in the morning after lying down for many hours asleep. In both cases it’s about having the foot in a contracted position for an extended period of time. Your first steps afterwards will be impaired, and instead you’ll hobble as your foot tries to heal itself. Your first step actually causes a sudden strain on the bottom of your foot. Now you’ll find yourself having difficulty climbing the stairs.
Then it can get much worse. The pain becomes a chronic condition and you won’t be able to keep up with your usual level of activity. Plantar fasciitis pain can change the way you walk and move, and that can lead to symptoms of other problems involving the foot, knee, back, and hip.
Home Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
If you want to play it safe, you should see a doctor for your condition. At the very least, your doctor can examine your symptoms and check your medical history. They may also conduct a physical exam that involves monitoring how you stand and walk. Sometimes they may take X-rays. The X-rays don’t exactly confirm that you have plantar fasciitis, because these images don’t really show the ligaments clearly. But at least they can use the X-rays to rule out other possible causes of your heel pain. They’ll know that it’s not a stress fracture, a bone cyst, or some other problem with your foot or ankle.
So what plantar fasciitis home cure options do you have? Actually, you have lots of options available.
1. Rest. When you start to feel the pain, stop whatever it is you’re doing that’s causing it. That means if you’re a runner or an athlete, you will need to lay off the workouts for a while.
2. Wear proper feet support. Resting isn’t always applicable, especially if you’re a professional athlete or your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day. If that’s the case, then you’ll need proper shoes for your feet. In fact, even for the start of the day you should put on proper shoes right out of bed. Going barefoot or wearing flat slippers in the morning can add to the problem.
For quick relief, you can add some support to the inside of your shoes. You can buy a commercial insole with an arch bump, which pushes on the plantar fascia to keep it from flexing. Whether the plantar fasciitis is worsened by under- or overpronation, you still need to support and strengthen the fascia.
3. Stretches. This is an important part of your treatment regimen, and it should start first thing in the morning. After all, many patients experience the pain in the morning, so stretching properly can give you the pain relief you need to start the day right.
Just get a belt or a towel and loop it around the ball of your foot. While you keep your leg straight, pull the belt gently towards your body. You’ll then feel a stretch on the lower part of your leg. Hold that position for 30 seconds before you let go, and then do the entire routine again for a total of 5 times.
During the day when you feel some pain, you can also sit down, remove your shoe, cross your legs, and then pull your toes up towards your shin with your hand. You should feel a stretch along the ball of your feet. Just hold this position for 30 seconds, and the pain should subside.
Another way to do this is to put up your toes against a wall while barefoot. Keep your arch and heel flat against the wall so you can stretch your toes. Just hold it for a count of 10, and do it in succession for a total of 10 times. This entire process should be done 3 to 4 times a day.
4. Massages. There are several ways of massaging your feet until the pain subsides. One way is to use a tennis ball. Just put it on the ground. And then gently roll it under your foot. Just put enough pressure that you get a deep massage without feeling any pain.
You can also use a frozen golf ball to massage the fascia. Start from the front and then work your way back. Put some good pressure on the 3 main parts for 15 seconds before you move on.
5. Cold treatment. If you don’t have a tennis ball or golf ball around, then you can try soaking your feet in ice-cold water. For some, it can help to alternate between hot and cold treatments, but you should end the process with cold treatment.
Any of these home remedies can work, and you should try them all first even before you call a doctor. These are the treatments your doctor will recommend anyway. But it is imperative to see a doctor when none of these treatment options are improving your pain.
You should also seek medical assistance if you experience the following:
- An injury to your heel that causes pain when you stand or put some weight on your heel. Your doctor can check if the pain is caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia or if it’s another injury that’s causing it.
- Pain even when you’re not standing up and bearing any weight on your heel. Usually you feel the when you stand up, because you’re straining your already injury-riddled plantar fascia. So you’ll need to see a doctor when the pain persists even when you’re resting.
- The pain doesn’t get any better even after a week of trying out all the plantar fasciitis home treatment options. There should be some reduction in the pain you feel after just a week, even if it doesn’t completely go away just yet.
- Finally, it won’t hurt to take ibuprofen or naproxen for pain relief, but you should limit intake of these medications to no more than a month.
If all non-surgical options fail, then surgery may be your last resort and it comes with some risks. However, it’s more likely that you’ll find a home cure for plantar fasciitis that works.