Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of your foot that connects your toes and heel bone. It can cause intense pain in the heel.
When the plantar fascia is overstretched, minute tears develop, usually in the area where the band inserts into the heel bone, accompanied by inflammation and tissue degeneration. Heel spurs—small bony protrusions on the bone of the heel caused by fascia inflammation—can also appear.
Fortunately, there are ways to find plantar fasciitis pain relief without medications or surgery. Here are four things you can do.
Limit use of high-heels and buy shoes that offer adequate arch support. Those funny-looking shoes called Crocs can be very helpful in providing relief. Their design allows for plenty of room in the toe area, a built-in support for the heel, and a rear strap that helps hold the shoe on. They are also extremely comfortable, making them a real godsend for those hobbled by the pain of plantar fasciitis. The company offers several styles, but the best one for foot problems seems to be the "beach" model.
Foot Archband Supports
Another strategy for treating plantar fasciitis naturally is Foot Arch Band Supports (FABS)—small, lightweight arch support pads on a thin band that wraps around the foot and is held in place with a Velcro strip. One size fits all, so they don’t require any customization. They’re small enough that they can be worn with most shoes, including sandals. FABS are fairly inexpensive. Another product called MAGFABS has a magnet embedded in each arch support for additional plantar fasciitis pain relief.
Foot massage, either manual or with an electric massager, helps release tension in the plantar fascia.
Tightness of the Achilles tendons and calf muscles can contribute to plantar fasciitis pain by keeping the plantar fascia in a constantly tense state. Regular stretching can help loosen things up. Here are a few exercises you can use.
- If you have pain when you first hit the floor in the morning, stretch before you get out of bed. Sitting up in bed, hold onto your flexed feet and gently pull them toward you until you can feel a good stretch in your Achilles tendons and calves. Hold for 30 seconds, relax, and repeat two more times. If you can’t comfortably reach your feet, place your foot in a hand towel and pull on both ends.
- Stand on a bottom stair, with shoes on (preferably sneakers), facing upstairs and holding onto the rail. Keeping your toes and the balls of your feet on the edge of the stair, lean forward a bit and slowly drop your heels toward the floor below. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax. Do three repetitions twice daily.
- To stretch out the plantar fascia more directly, rub your bare or stocking feet over an unopened 12-ounce can or a golf ball. Do this for about three minutes a couple of times a day, using as much pressure as feels comfortable.