A thick ligament like tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot from the heel bone to the toes provides support in the arch of your foot. This tissue helps to carry your body weight while you walk and during activity is called the plantar fascia. If the tissue develops tiny tears and becomes inflamed it is a condition called Plantar Fasciitis (pronounced "PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus").
Think of your plantar fascia as your body's shock absorber. Throughout the day the fascia supports the arch of the foot in carrying the weight of the body. Sometimes, when the impact is too great, tiny tears will appear in the fascia. If the impact level continues unchanged, in time these tears will become inflamed.
This condition affects over 2 million Americans and is typically characterized by intense stabbing pain in the heel - particularly first thing in the morning or after a period of activity. In many cases the pain decreases as the fascia warms up during the day but some poor sufferers (typically those with a chronic condition) are plagued all day with the pain.
Basically this condition is caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia or biomechanical faults causing the inward rotation of your foot. In most cases it can be attributed to long periods of weight bearing particularly when using unsupportive footwear, extra weight bearing, obesity, inactivity, poor weight distribution due to faulty foot mechanics, or sudden changes in weight distribution (as when playing sports). So what can be done?
Most sufferers are able to overcome the pain with non-invasive therapy and get back to their work or favorite pursuits. If left untreated however, there is a risk that the condition will become chronic which can possibly lead to a host of other issues. Typically we find that what happens in the feet directly impacts the proper functioning of the knees, hips, and back as you change your body mechanics to adjust for the pain or discomfort.
The good news is there are many steps you can take right in your own home to speed your recovery time and prevent this condition from reoccurring all you need is the right information, the right tools, and the right attitude.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Conservative treatments tend to be the best way to treat plantar fasciitis. However, it can take months to years to heal depending on your situation and commitment to treatment (6 weeks to 6 months or longer). To improve healing time and treat your pain naturally, cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ are recommended.
Cold Compression Therapy
When you are experiencing pain, swelling, and inflammation in the bottom of your foot, doctors recommend cold compression therapy. Cold compression therapy reduces tissue damage caused by swelling and inflammation and treats your foot pain quickly.
Cold compression therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the damaged area. This is important because once blood vessels are damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the plantar fascia and tissue cells begin to break-down.
The Plantar/Spur Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat yourself in an effective and convenient way and the deep cold provided by the Plantar/Spur Freezie Wrap® slows cell function thereby reducing cellular break-down. Furthermore, because the cold wraps serve to numb the nerves, the wraps also reduce pain!
The cooling gel pack inside every Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. The specially formulated gel allows the pack to be supercharged in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs. The Freezie Wrap® gives you deep cold compression therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn to the layers of your skin. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective cold compression therapy.
In addition, the specially designed foot wrap has an adjustable compression band so you can control the amount of pressure that feels good around your foot.
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Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your plantar fascia, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your foot is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your plantar fascia and other weakened tissue. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing and stronger tissue.
Extremities of the body, like the foot, do not receive much blood flow naturally and when you stop moving your foot because it hurts, you are not creating the natural blood flow it usually receives. With the use of Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ you can increase your body’s blood supply to the plantar fascia.
In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins (including lactic acid, commonly found in trigger points) that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and better prepared for healing. Our Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief with no side effects.
Keeping your planter fascia and foot as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Plantar/Spur Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your foot pain stops! Even when your plantar fascia has healed, your activities can put it at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, or another tear. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the tissues and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy feet for years to come!
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your foot until your pain and inflammation settle. With these easy-to-use, home therapies you will notice great improvement within a few weeks, with most patients seeing some improvement quickly. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results. If you start using your plantar fascia before it has a chance to heal properly (even though it may feel better), you can end up doing a lot more damage than good!
Wearing a night splint to treat your plantar fasciitis allows you to begin your day in significantly less pain and heals your inflamed fascia ligament faster.
Night splints are designed to maintain a gentle stretch of the plantar fascia while you sleep. Your ankle is stabilized at an angle that prevents the fascia ligament from becoming taut as you relax your foot throughout the night. As a result, you will no longer go through the painful process of restretching the fascia ligament in the morning.
Preventing the fascia from becoming taut as you sleep alleviates the painful mornings all too familiar to plantar fasciitis sufferers and accelerates the healing process. Our lightweight, padded, low-profile Dorsal Night Splint and Night Splint with Tread will give you the stretch you need while you sleep comfortably and heal your pain.
Stretching to Relieve Plantar Fasciitis Pain
Stretching will help to alleviate tightness in your foot, lower leg and hamstring muscles.
The calf muscles are made up of several muscles which serve to plantar flex the foot. These include the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and the plantaris muscles. When these muscles are tight they can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Stretching of these muscles can reduce the symptoms. Consult your doctor to discuss which stretches work best for you.
There are several techniques which include:
- A lunge with one foot while leaving the heel of the other foot planted on the ground. Leaning into the lunge will stretch the calf muscle of the back leg. Do not bounce as you stretch as this may cause tendon damage. A nice, steady stretch held for 30-60 seconds will give you the desired results. You should stretch both legs even if only one side is bothering you. This should be repeated several times per day.
- A very simple stretch to get started can be done by standing with the feet at shoulder width. Go into a full squat with your knees bent all of the way. While in this full squatting position your can lean forward and you should feel the stretch in your calf muscles and your feet. You may support yourself with your hands if you feel like you are having trouble keeping your balance. Throughout the stretch you should push your heels toward the ground as you lean forward. This is a good stretch of your soleus muscle.
- Another stretch that will help starts with you putting your toes on a step and your heel on the floor below. Lean into this foot and you will feel a stretch in your calf muscles and foot. This stretch primarily focuses on the gastrocnemius muscle when you keep the knee straight.
- You may also consider stretching the gluteal muscles and hamstrings. This is because they, along with the calf muscles share the same fascial plane and kinetic chain. Releasing tension in these muscles and the fascia that surrounds them through stretching, will take tension off of the plantar fascia as well.
- One of the most important times to stretch is in the morning. People with plantar fasciitis know that this is the most painful time. The reason is that the feet naturally plantar flex when we lay down to sleep. Over eight hours of plantarflexion the plantar fascia becomes taut again. This makes the first steps of morning particularly painful. Stretching before these first steps has been shown to alleviate this problem in 72% of people.(1)
- A night splint is a very effective device that maintains a stretch in the plantar fascia throughout the night. Preventing the fascia from becoming taut as you sleep alleviates the painful mornings all too familiar to plantar fasciitis sufferers and accelerates your healing. Our lightweight, padded, low-profile Dorsal Night Splint and Night Splint With Tread will give you the stretch you need while you sleep comfortably and will allow you to awaken pain free
- Consistent stretching of the posterior leg muscles including the calf muscles, gluteal muscles and hamstrings can be very beneficial. That is why it is one of the treatments of choice for therapists, doctors and athletic trainers.
Physical therapy will help to improve pain in tissues and restore your weakened muscles through use of ultrasound, muscle stimulation or extracorporeal shockwave therapy and will provide you with a customized exercise program.
Chiropractic care, deep massage, reflexology and acupressure have also shown to be effective in relieving tension, strengthening your foot and helping with alignment.
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.