There’s nothing quite as jarring as taking your first few steps each morning only to be met with a searing pain in the bottom of your heel, yet for those with plantar fasciitis, that’s exactly how each day begins.
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of your plantar fascia, a band of tissue that links your toes with your heel bone. In mild cases, self-care strategies can reduce inflammation and help improve your symptoms.
Here are five self-care tips to improve plantar fasciitis, courtesy of our team here at Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
1. Stretch your feet and calves
Because tight calf muscles can aggravate plantar fasciitis, an ideal stretching routine includes stretches for your feet and your calves. You can easily stretch your feet using a foam roller or rolling your foot on a frozen water bottle. To use this stretching method, sit in a chair and roll your feet over the water bottle or foam roller. Roll each foot for one minute then switch sides.
If you’d prefer to perform the towel stretch, follow these steps:
- Sit in the chair.
- Fold a hand towel in half lengthwise, and place your arches in the middle of the towel.
- Grab the ends of the towel and pull up gently.
- Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat three times for each foot.
You can also use exercise straps in lieu of a towel. Our physical therapy team guides you with the right stretches and exercises for your needs.
2. Apply cold compresses
Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation in your feet by constricting blood vessels, which is why the cold water bottle stretch feels so good on your feet. In addition to the cold water bottle, you might also find relief with ice packs designed especially for plantar fasciitis. These cold compresses feature straps that hold the ice packs in place.
3. Switch your shoes
Walking barefoot or wearing unsupportive shoes (such as flip-flops) can make your feet hurt more. Instead, wear supportive shoes with cushion and good arch support. Worn-out shoes can also compound issues, so be sure to replace your athletic shoes before they lose all support.
For example, runners should replace their shoes every 300-400 miles. Depending on how much you run, this could be every few months. Because your shoes may not look worn out at this time, track your miles so that you can better gauge when it’s time to replace your shoes.
4. Try a new activity
Running, especially increasing your miles too quickly, can lead to plantar fasciitis. If your feet hurt, try adding more low-impact sports into your workout routine to give your feet a break. Swimming, cycling, and yoga are easier on your feet than high-impact sports such as jogging.
It may be tempting to push through the pain, but rest and self-care can help you get back in the game safely by allowing your plantar fascia to heal properly.
5. Use your orthotics and night splints
If Dr. Dustin Hamoy suggested orthotics or night splints, use them as directed to do so. Your orthotics are custom made for you and redistribute pressure, so your heel receives less stress. Likewise, night splints keep your feet in a stretched position all night to help alleviate pain when you wake up.
What if self-care strategies aren’t enough?
If you find that self-care tips don’t fully alleviate your pain, you aren’t out of options. Here at Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center, Dr. Hamoy offers MLS ® laser therapy to accelerate the healing process, block pain signals, and encourage nutrients to flow to the affected area.
Interested in MLS laser therapy? To find out if laser therapy is right for you, use our booking tool, or give us a call at 410-324-2968 to start exploring your plantar fasciitis treatment options.