What is it?
Plantar Fasciitis is a weird one - you’ve either never heard of it or it’s completely ruining your life. There’s no real in-between. For those who aren’t familiar with the condition it essentially is an incredibly sore foot. In medical terms “itis” always means that something is inflamed, in this case it’s the Plantar Fascia. The Plantar Fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports body weight and provides balance. Plantar Fasciitis is when this gets weak, irritated and inflamed. So essentially someone who is suffering from plantar fasciitis has intense pain in the bottom of their foot, especially the heel. The condition is at it’s worse after long periods of inactivity and being off your feet such as sleep or sitting down. The pain eases after a short amount of activity but it never really fully goes away therefore those who have it really do suffer as the pain is quite sharp and the pain is actually worse after physical activity than it is during. It doesn’t affect any other part of the body but the foot and can get worse if left untreated.
What are the causes?
Causes of Plantar Fasciitis can vary from person to person but it most commonly affects those over the age of 50 and athletes, essentially those who have really got the use out of their feet. That isn’t to say everyone outside of that bracket is exempt though as cases of teen Plantar Fasciitis aren’t exactly uncommon. The condition can also be brought on by other health problems especially obesity, obesity causes a lot of stress to the Plantar Fascia due to the fact it has a lot more physical strain on it and weight to balance. It affects those who aren’t necessarily athletes, yet have very physical demanding jobs such as warehouse or labouring jobs where you are constantly demanded to be on your feet walking or staying stood on hard surfaces for extended periods of times. Tight calf muscles from strenuous exercise is also believed to be a potential factor in causing the condition as it restrains the foot from being as flexible as it normally is therefore applying more pressure to the base of the foot. Finally, footwear can be a huge factor as well. The wrong type of footwear for a hard days work or intense gym session can be extremely damaging to the foot and the plantar fascia causing plantar fasciitis.
So now that we’ve established what Plantar Fasciitis is, what causes it and who is affected without further ado here are the 5 best ways to treat the condition…
Exercise is the easiest and most natural method of relieving the pain as it can be done at any time of the day or when you are experiencing pain or discomfort. The most commonly preferred method is to massage the feet before standing. Do this for about 10 minutes before standing or running and make sure to focus on the whole foot and not just where the pain currently is, this relieves the pain of the first few steps and takes away the edge one suffering with Plantar Fasciitis gets after being on foot. A really good way to ensure the whole foot is massaged and prepared is using a household item such as a rolling pin as it is wide and sturdy and will be able to cover more than your hands do. Toe stretches are also good for not only stretching out the whole foot and relieving it of lactic acids but it also strengthens the foot providing more strength and less pain in the future. It’s also worth mentioning again the importance of a strong calf muscle as stretching the calves makes them stronger so there is less pressure on your feet. So maybe an extra leg day a week doesn’t sound so bad after all.
Finding the right footwear can be tough as everyones feet are different. Many shoes advertised tend to steer away from advertising their benefits for your feet and opt more to sell you the design and aesthetic of the shoe and those who do boast about their physical benefits tend to come at a hefty price. Half the battle is recognising what shoe is best for a particular situation. Just a night out? You can probably risk the heels for a bit (try and sneak some flats along if you can though) but if you’re going to be on your feet all day; trainers are essential. As most cases of PF are caused by strain to the foot it’s best to recognise what’s best for damage limitation. As far as trainers go you’d be hard pressed for a trainer that isn’t comfortable as after all, it’s their sole purpose. So as long as you’re being sensible and not going for a high fashion trainer or a trainer made for a particular sport you should be fine. Go for a low cost lifestyle trainer or if you’re willing to spend more for it - go ahead! Another method that might be a bit polarising is not wearing socks. Some love it as a fashion statement and some steer clear due to hygienic reasons. If you’re willing to risk it for the sake of your discomfort it’s actually totally worth it! Studies have proven that wearing your shoes barefoot enhances grip and strengthens your legs therefore taking pressure off your foot and giving you some much needed relief.
Making some slight lifestyle changes can go a long way! Shredding down a few pounds could really relieve your foot of some extra pressure. Regular gym sessions can help strengthen your foot as previously mentioned and keeping the foot active reduces the pain of the first few steps and the painful after effects. If you are in a physically demanding job that requires you to be active and on your feet for extended periods of time it’s probably worthwhile putting the time aside before a shift to massage and prepare your feet for the long day ahead. You may also want to plan mini breaks that allow you to get off your feet for a bit throughout the day. PF can always be down to habits in your life such as walking so it may be worth looking into ways to change your stance and alter your walk if you can - but if it feels unnatural stop because it could worsen things!
There are various ways for you treat your Plantar Fasciitis at home which can be practical and cost efficient. The main one is the use of over the counter painkillers that can be used every now and then during especially painful episodes always check with a General Practitioner first to see if you have an allergies and what painkiller is best suited for you. As we’re sure you know ice does absolute wonders - after all water is the healing component! From the days of grazed knees on the playground to adulthood its proven that you just can’t beat a good ice pack. The most popular self remedy for the condition are insoles for your feet. These just slip inside of your shoe and provide extra protection and comfort for your feet giving them a nice natural arch protecting them from extra pressure - absolutely ideal for those who are required to wear smart shoes in their jobs. A lot of people are also firm believers that the use of Foot Pads dramatically relieves the aches and pains of the condition. The Foot Pad consist of natural ingredients such as green tea and bamboo which help drain the whole body of impurities and relieving the foot. The most common way to utilise the pads are to put them on both feet before bed and leave them over night then take them off to see the results in the morning. Many have raved about this products and swear by it when it comes to relieving their Plantar Fasciitis pains.
If all else fails and you can’t relieve your feet of the pain you should seek the advice. Of your GP and they’ll be able to help you. They may prescribe some type of painkiller so you can go about day to day with less intensity but they may also prescribe something called a cortisone injection. Cortisone injections which are basically a steroid that goes into your foot and temporarily numb the pain. The issue with these are that the relief ranges from weeks to sometimes just a few hours and even then you have to get them topped off every now and then which can become very expensive very quickly so it’s not the most popular of remedies. Alternatively, a GP may refer to you physiotherapy or an orthopaedic specialist who can professionally deal with Plantar Fasciitis and build you custom therapy for your foot and lifestyle which will work best for you. A doctor can also prescribe you with equipment such as shin or leg splints in more serious cases which will aide you in your daily life, retrain the leg and eventually relieve pain.