Have you ever woken up to take your first steps of the day, only to be greeted by a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot? You might be dealing with a condition known as plantar fasciitis. As you embark on a quest for relief, let’s hear from Dr. Anita Iroko, a general practitioner, about the best approaches you can apply.
Things You Should Know About Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot, usually most intense with the first steps after waking. It is typically caused by inflammation or micro-tears in the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It may sound alarming, but don’t fret – there are effective ways to manage this pain.
“The key to treating plantar fasciitis is to address the underlying cause, often tight calf muscles or overpronation, and to give your body time to heal,” says Dr. Iroko. “There are several simple remedies you can try at home.”
Ways to Ease Plantar Fasciitis Foot Pain
1. Rest and Ice
“First things first, give your feet a break,” advises Dr. Iroko. Reducing activities that cause pain in your foot can be a great starting point. Follow this with regular icing sessions. A 15-20 minute ice pack application can significantly reduce inflammation and plantar fasciitis pain.
2. Stretching Exercises
There are specific exercises you can perform to stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. These exercises can ease pain and even prevent it from coming back. Dr. Iroko recommends exercises such as:
- Calf stretches
- Plantar fascia stretch
- Towel stretch
Remember to do these exercises regularly and maintain proper form.
3. Night Splints
Your doctor might recommend a night splint that stretches your calf and the arch of your foot while you sleep. This can help maintain an extended stretch of the plantar fascia overnight, which may reduce morning pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can help ease inflammation and alleviate plantar fasciitis foot pain. While these aren’t a long-term solution, they can certainly help in the short term.
“In many cases, adding support to your footwear can make a world of difference,” explains Dr. Iroko. Over-the-counter shoe inserts can be very beneficial. They provide additional arch support and a cushion for your heel. For a more personalized fit, consider custom-made orthotics.
6. Physical Therapy Exercises
One of the primary treatments for plantar fasciitis is physical therapy, which strengthens the lower leg muscles and helps stabilize your walk, and lessens the workload on your plantar fascia. If your mornings are typically accompanied by discomfort, then stretching your calves and plantar fascia before getting out of bed can be a game-changer.
Lifestyle Adjustments for Prevention
Preventing plantar fasciitis from recurring is just as important as treating it. Here are some recommendations from Dr. Iroko:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts extra stress on your plantar fascia.
- Choose supportive shoes. Avoid high heels and buy shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole.
- Don’t wear worn-out athletic shoes.
- Avoid high-impact activities that can cause foot pain, like running on hard surfaces.
- Apply ice after activities if you have a history of plantar fasciitis.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If your pain persists or interferes with your daily activities, it’s time to see a professional. “An accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment,” Dr. Iroko states. “Your doctor can guide you on the best course of treatment and refer you to a specialist if necessary.”
Further Reading: 10 Reasons You Feel Burning in Your Feet