Let's face it, there is nothing fun about Plantar Fasciitis, but if you have it, how do you fix it? Let's take a look at the options without resorting to orthotics or living with it!
Calming things down
Ice is your friend... "Itis" at the end of a word means inflammation. So Plantar Fasciitis is so named because the fascia on the plantar (base) of the foot is inflamed. Inflammation is painful, so here are a few ways to calm that inflammation.
Grab your washing up bowl and some ice from the freezer and put your whole foot into it for 5-10 minutes.😬 Yes it sounds a little daunting, but ice calms inflammation and takes away pain. Don't be tempted to leave it for longer than 10 minutes or you can actually create more inflammation as the body tries to warm the area back up. Repeat every hour and it may calm down that pain.
Another option, often preferred, is to get a water bottle, fill it with water and put it in the freezer. Once frozen, roll the base of your foot along the icy bottle to calm things.
No 1 is, in our view, more preferable, only because Plantar Fasciitis is a term given to almost any pain in the foot and heel, it may not be plantar fasciitis and therefore submerging the whole foot, rather than just the base of the foot, may bet better results. But try both and see which you prefer. 😀
Getting to the cause of the pain
As I mentioned earlier, Plantar Fasciitis may not be Plantar Fasciitis at all! The biomechanics of the lower body are complex and a weak foot can create plantar pain. However, a weak core, leading to a pelvis mal-alignment, can also create plantar pain in the foot. So the next thing to do is take a look at your feet, you may see one of these:
Your foot is very flat, there is no or very little arch, or gap on the inside of the foot, instead the foot touches the floor.... this indicates a weak arch.
There is an arch, a gap just enough to get a flat finger under it... this is a normal foot.
You load the outside of the foot so look like you have a very high arch. This shows when you actually have a weak arch and the foot is trying create an arch by tipping the foot onto the outside edge..... so what you really have here is a weak arch that the body isn't happy about.
If your feet are perfect, then you need to go and search for the issue elsewhere in the lower body and for that you really need to have it assessed by someone who understands biomechanics. At The Reinge Clinic we have sports science degrees so assessing biomechanics, firing patterns and muscle strength is second nature.
Fixing a weak foot
If your foot is weak, contrary to popular belief an orthotic won't solve the problem. But, it will tell you something! If you were to put an orthotic, such as a basic arch support in, and it improves things, then the cause of your issue is a weak foot! The orthotic will help for a bit, but like anything that is being supported, over time the muscles will get even weaker... as they don't need to work, the orthotic is doing the work. After a while the orthotic stops working.
The long term solution is to strengthen the foot..... Take a towel and lay it on a surface such as tiles or wooden floors, something without much friction.
Then using your toes only, try to scrunch the towel up under your feet. Make sure your big toe does most of the work and try not to let the whole leg work, just the foot.
When it starts to get easy you can progress the exercise.
Add a water bottle to the end of the towel and partially fill it with water. That way you have to pull the towel and the water bottle, which is harder.
Once you can do that, increase the amount of water in the bottle until you can easily pull the towel and a full 2ltr water bottle!
Once you can do that, move the towel onto a different surface with more friction, such as carpet and start the process again.
Normal foot strength is scrunching a 2 ltr water bottle on carpet 😮.
If your foot is the problem, it will take a few weeks but this will help. If the problem isn't resolving then the chances are it isn't coming from the foot. The best route in this case, is to get it assessed properly, to make sure the problem isn't coming from your back or further up the legs. Get in touch and we can help with that. 😀
The Reinge Clinic is a Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy, Sports Science clinic based in Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Take a look at our facebook page for our pain, injury and exercise advice posts and learn more about us on our website.