Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment.

On the previous page, Plantar Fasciitis, we talked about what plantar fasciitis is and what causes it, as well as its symptoms.

Several family members have suffered with this condition, but one son in particular decided to take care of the problem naturally. With persistent determination for several months, Rusty took many different steps to beat it - and he succeeded.

Having watched what he did, this page will address the treatment.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a plantar fasciitis treatment. Some things to remember are:

  1. Try to avoid re-injury and/or re-aggravation to the plantar fascia tissues.
  2. Seek to get increased tissue fluids and nutrients to the involved tissues which are necessary for tissue repair. This is best done with exercise and heat.
  3. Seek to decrease swelling and any inflammation in the involved area as well as getting metabolites and waste products of cellular activity and cellular destruction out of the involved tissues.
  4. Promote healing while maintaining some stretch in the fascia. It is important that healing tissues as well as any scar tissue that is laid down during healing does so in patterns and positions that are not easily re-injured.

To accomplish these things, our son chose a plantar fasciitis treatment that involved the following things:

  1. Ice. He used ice as part of his plantar fasciitis treatment. He found that during times of excessive swelling, or inflammation surrounding the involved area, placing an ice pack on the bottom of his foot worked well.

    He also learned that freezing a small round plastic bottle filled with water worked wonders. By rolling his bare or socked foot over it while sitting at the computer or watching television in the evenings, the ice cooled the inflammation and reduced swelling while stretching the fascia. This helped to heal while reducing his pain.

    A small round massage roller can also be used for the plantar fasciitis treatment.

  2. Heat. The plantar fasciitis treatment that logically follows ice is to use heat during times when there is less pain, swelling and inflammation. This can be accomplished the same way as above but using hot water in the bottle that you roll your foot over. A bottle of hot water feels really good on a cold night.

    He found this helped to massage the tissues and increase circulation to the tissues involved. This is needed for healing.

  3. Heat and Cold. Sometimes, when nothing seems to be working, try alternating cold and hot in five to ten minute intervals. Doing several cycles of this process increases circulation rapidly.
  4. Exercise. The next part of an effective plantar fasciitis treatment is to exercise the involved plantar fascia. Some easy to do, but effective exercises he did are:

    • Picked up marbles or small rocks with his toes and placed them in a bowl.
    • Placed a towel flat on the floor. Placing his foot on the towel and using a clawing motion he gradually pulled the towel under his foot with his toes.
      • You can't just do these just once - but must do them often - at least daily.

      • Stretch. Be sure to stretch the plantar fascia often. Find a stretch that you like and do it hourly all day long. A few suggestions include:

        • Use a belt looped over the ball of the foot while sitting on the floor. Pull the ends of the belt with your hands toward you. This puts the foot in dorsiflexion and thus stretches the plantar tissues.
        • The exercise he found most helpful was to stand flat footed about two feet from a wall and lean towards the wall, keeping his heels on the floor. This also placed the foot in dorsiflexion stretching the plantar tissue. Stretching the calf is also helpful.
        • Next, with his foot bent up, he placed his toe against the wall and leaned forward, feeling the stretch in the calf.
        • You can also stand on a book or step with the heel extending past the book or step. Lower the heel as far as you can. Repeat several times.

        To make stretching a very effective part of his plantar fasciitis treatment he did these stretches hourly. They are easy to do and don't take long. He set his watch alarm, stood up and did them all day long, at work or at home.

      • Foam Roller. Using a foam roller to roll out the calf muscle and thus remove any knots or other tightness in the lower leg was another line of approach. He found that if this tissue was tight it would increase the problems in his plantar fascia. He bought a rumble roller for some serious foam rolling.
      • Anti-inflammatory. He sometimes used ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory products when needed to reduce inflammation. This should be taken with food to avoid stomach irritations. Better yet, he preferred to drink an herbal infusion such as chamomile as an anti-inflammatory to avoid stomach problems.
      • Herbs. Anti-inflammatory herbs reduce or counteract the heat and swelling of inflammation when used internally or externally. 
      •  A delicious herbal tea which is easily available and is anti-inflammatory that can be used in your plantar fasciitis treatment is chamomile. You can also use it externally as a compress to promote healing. A comfrey compress is also an excellent choice. 
      •  To make a compress use hot water for a warm compress and cold water for a cold compress. Add 1/2 cup dried chamomile (1 cup fresh if you have fresh) to water which has just been brought to a boil. Allow the herbs to steep at least 30 minutes or longer, over night is best. 
      • Place in the refrigerator to cool if using a cold compress. 
      •  You can also add up to 7 drops of Roman Chamomile essential oil that has been blended with a carrier oil (see our page on Homemade Massage Oil for directions) to the water. 
      •  Stir. 
      •  Place a washcloth or soft cloth on the surface to collect the oil. Wring it out carefully and wrap it around your foot.
      • Essential Oils. Sandalwood, Frankensence or Roman Chamomile are essential oils that are anti-inflammatory as well as calming. They also encourage deep breathing which is essential for relaxation. 
      •  Use these oils externally only. Add up to 7 drops of blended oil to hot or cold water or to an herbal tea and make a compress as described above.
      • Massage. If possible have someone massage the plantar fascia for you while you relax. Rusty is lucky that he has a sweet wife who agreed this was a very important part of a plantar fasciitis treatment, and she massaged the large knot in his plantar fascia every night using essential oil. He used a massage oil made with the above essential oils. If there is no one to do it for you, you can massage your own foot with a simple self-massage.
      • Place your left foot on your right knee and grasp that foot in both hands. Knead the foot while giving long strokes along the entire foot from the heel to the toes. This promotes the blood flow and circulation in the foot. Perform this motion for a full minute.

        Holding the foot with your left hand, make a fist with your right hand. Using a circular motion, work the arch with your knuckles.

        When you have finished this, using your thumbs on both hands gently, but firmly, massage the entire bottom of the foot including each individual toe and the outside edge, but paying particular attention to the heel area.

        Repeat on the other foot. Your feet should feel great.

      • Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint. The last thing he discovered but the thing that topped it all off was the use of a plantar fasciitis night splint on his foot.

        This part of the healing process in his plantar fasciitis treatment was very important. When not used, his foot generally pointed down while sleeping, partly because of the weight of the covers, and shortened the tissues in the plantar fascia over night.

        When this happens the first few steps you take in the morning can be very uncomfortable, even painful. But more importantly, it re-tears the plantar fascia and undoes any healing that may have occurred during the night.

        Using a night splint helps hold the foot in dorsiflexion while you sleep, keeping the plantar fascia elongated and thus allowing healing to occur.

        That way, when you take your first steps in the morning, the fascia is already stretched and you avoid the tissue damage that otherwise occurs because of shortened fascia.

Keep Going. It is really important to continue to treat the involved tissues for a while after the symptoms subside. Your plantar fasciitis will feel better before complete healing has occurred.

Be dedicated to the routine and you may find you can avoid any further foot heel pain. Our son is proud to say that all his time and effort have paid off, the knot in his foot is gone and so is the pain!

Note: Speaking with him the other day, he said that as he gets slack he can feel it coming back, so he tries to make sure he does some stretching every day and wears his boot whenever he notices it again.

He's a pretty happy guy.

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Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the a celebration of that miracle. Martha Washington

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