Welcome to one of the most common foot pains in the US with over 3 million cases per year (according to the Mayo Clinic).
But don’t fret – there is hope.
As a sufferer of plantar fasciitis (currently recovering), I have come across many ways to help, cure, and prevent this stabbing pain from ever returning. Although there are many, many sources online, this article will provide the most basic, useful, and most helpful information right here, right now.
I’ve had pain for the last few weeks after walking my dogs twice a day for 30-min each with mere flip-flops (how dumb). This week I’ve finally had relief and can walk again – so allow me to suggest a few things that have worked for me!
This article’s organization:
- What is plantar fasciitis?
- My Story
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is an annoying reminder that our foot is not invincible.
With so many little bones, muscles, and tendons, it just so happens that the largest band of tissue under the foot (the “plantar fascia”) is responsible for the pain you feel and your inability to walk straight.
The “plantar fascia” is one of the thickest bands of tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes. So although it this pain is also known as “policeman’s heel,” it can affect the foot in different areas all along the plantar fascia. For me, it stings underneath near the ball of my foot.
Specifics about plantar fasciitis:
- Plantar fascia is the thick band of fibrous tissue connecting the heel to the toes
- Plantar fasciitis happens when there are small tears on the surface of this fibrous tissue (usually when over exhausted or overstretched
- Heel spurs (bony growths) can be a result of plantar fasciitis, though it used to be thought heel spurs cause plantar fasciitis
More susceptible if or when you:
- have tight or rigid Achilles tendons
- have very high arches or very flat feet
- typically wear old, worn-out shoes or shoes with no support (such as flip-flops or sandals)
- walk with an unusual foot position
- Aged 40 to 60yrs (but happens younger too, i.e., I’m 27)
- Excess weight can put extra stress on the plantar fascia
Consider this comparison: the tendons of the foot are like springs and when jumping, walking, or landing on your feet the spring-loaded tendons absorb the shock. When overused or stretched without adequate time to recuperate or heal, these springs become rigid and stiff, thus leading to them tearing from the inability to stretch.
Basically, stop what you’re doing because the plantar fascia isn’t stretching anymore. So don’t force it! It can make it worse. Don’t just keep walking on it, thinking it’ll go away like I did (#dumb). Make sure to take the necessary precautions and perhaps stop using it altogether for a short period to allow for proper healing.
Most people don’t have strong feet – to be honest, most people don’t NEED strong feet! But when you think of a profession that might rely on foot strength, ballet dancers might come to mind!
In the video below, you’ll find some amazing exercises that can help strengthen the small muscles in the feet, all of which are connected to the plantar fascia – these REALLY work.
All these little movements can help in so many ways. The best part is you can start as easy as you want! Go slow and be careful of pain! Pain is your body’s way of telling you to ease up and slow down (or even stop!)
I would highly recommend stretching slowly and carefully. DO NOT massage the bottom of your foot.
The video below explains the reasons why you shouldn’t do what MOST videos online recommend as well as give some helpful stretches – I tried massaging the bottom of the foot, directly on the fascia before I knew and as warned about in the video it caused MORE pain!
Your objective is to allow the fascia to heal properly while also strengthening the tissue to improve flexibility. It will tend to stiffen due to it trying to heal. When it does this, make sure you stretch or roll it out BEFORE putting weight on it or walking! That is VERY important.
If your plantar fasciitis has gone on too far, you NEED to take further action. Exercises and stretches are always a must when recovering, but sometimes it’s not enough.
Spending $20 to $40 can GREATLY speed up the healing process of your plantar fasciitis and for something that could take months to heal, you could reduce it by half with a small investment.
Steps to CURING your plantar fasciitis:
- STOP all activities as best you can and reduce the stress on your feet
- MASSAGE and ice your feet to reduce stiffness, but if it hurts then STOP (my recommendation on Amazon)
- URGENT CARE can prescribe you with an anti-inflammatory medication to help it heal faster
- BUY specific inserts to support this type of foot injury (my recommendation on Amazon)
- BUY specific boot for sleeping in if it hasn’t improved (my recommendation on Amazon)
- STRETCH every morning before standing on your feet and every night before going to bed with AND without ice
Another great way to compare the plantar fascia to something more relatable is a rubber band. Imagine repeatedly stretching the rubber band to the point when it starts to tear on the sides, rather than continue to stretch it, you most likely stop stretching it altogether.
So instead of thinking “I need to cure this right away,” be considerate of the time it will take. You don’t want to stretch it too soon before it’s even had a chance to heal!
We’re fortunate that, unlike a rubber band, our bodies have a way to heal and mend the tiny tears in the fibers of the fascia. But you MUST let it have a chance to do so.
Like most men, I can’t help but convince myself that I am strong enough to conquer any pain. “I’ll just push through it,” I thought. “It’s just a little foot pain,” I said.
Silly, silly me.
After a week of continuing to walk on the pain with flat, nonsupporting flip-flops (of all things), the consistent pain gained my serious attention. So I checked in at the nearby urgent care, was told it’s plantar fasciitis, was prescribed anti-inflammatories, and was instructed to stretch and ice once to twice a day.
I, of course, jumped on this right away. But, like most men, over did the stretching thinking “if I can work hard enough, I can cure it faster.” NOPE. I made it even worse to where I couldn’t walk anymore and my lovely wife had to walk the dogs for a good five days because of my immobility. My “manly” attitude was definitely taken down a notch. No better way to feel some humility than to be stuck on the couch!
Finally, this week has been more promising and today I was able to walk the dogs almost like normal. But I still can’t walk without my specific arch supports. I’ve recently bought a boot to sleep in so that I don’t reinjure myself every morning as well.
I’ve been stretching, massaging, and icing every day, morning and night while also trying not to walk more than a few minutes at a time. It has been slow going, but finally, things are looking better!
My daily routine:
- Stretch before getting out of bed by rolling out my feet with the SPRI ball
- Stretch exercises, maybe walking exercises
- Insert arch support into my shoes
- Walk for 10 to 30min (if there’s been no pain)
- Roll out my foot with a water bottle from the freezer
- Roll out of my foot with the SPRI ball again
- Adjust the FUTURO nightly foot support to sleep in (surprisingly comfortable)
As much as I hate spending money, I kept realizing the importance of arch support and the sleeping boot.
The grand total has come out to about $60 (shoe inserts, sleeping boot, & meds).
Like I said before, today was the first day I was able to walk for an extended amount of time without pain! A little discomfort, but nothing alarming. A HUGE improvement.
This whole experience has furthered my belief in the importance of stretching as I get older.
Though plantar fasciitis is common, it is still very painful and VERY inconvenient. If you want to prevent fasciitis like this again, STRETCH. Keep doing everything in this article as part of your daily routine, even after it has healed.
Take preventative measures to ensure plantar fasciitis doesn’t bother you again.
I hope you found this article useful and you feel a renewed sense of hope! If I can heal from it, you can too! But DISCLAIMER, I am not a professional in the medical field. If pain persists, report to a healthcare professional. My job here is to share information that might help you on your road to self-treatment, but don’t consider it medical advice. Just a friend telling a friend what worked for them.
Best of luck with your foot pain! I hope it goes away soon.
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