Living With Chronic Pain

Plantar Fasciiatis Treatments and Exercises:

Last week, I discussed the potential causes and symptoms of plantar fasciiatis. Now, I’ll review the treatments and exercises that can help relieve the symptoms.

Plantar fasciitis usually resolves within 6 to 18 months. With 6 months of consistent, nonoperative treatment, people with plantar fasciitis will recover 97% of the time.

Treatments:

  • Rest the painful area for a few days: This is the most crucial, non-invasive form of treating plantar fasciitis. Avoid tasks and exercises which place strain upon the affected foot and may aggravate the condition. 
  • Ice the area: To reduce inflammation at a faster rate, ice can help. You should use an ice pack three to five times a day for as long as half an hour. Especially after active usage such as walking or running is helpful.
  • Alternate ice with heat: If the inflammation does not ease significantly in three to four days with icing and rest, you could take hot and cold contrast baths for quick relief. Fill two containers with water. One should have water at the temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. The other should be around 20 degrees Celsius. Dipping your feet in these tubs will reduce pain and inflammation. Put your feet in hot water for up to four minutes and transfer them to the cold water for about two minutes. Repeat up to five times each.
  • Compress the foot: Use a soft wrap to reduce swelling, especially while active. This also keeps the area warm and encourages circulation in order to reduce inflammation.
  • Elevate the foot: This can be especially helpful when a person is sleeping.
  • Use topical anti-inflammatories: They are available as gels, gel patches, and sprays that can be applied directly at the site of injury. If you have plantar fasciitis, do not confuse these topical anti-inflammatory ointments with muscle-pain-relievers; the latter is unlikely to provide any nature of enduring relief from the symptoms one is suffering.
  • Orthopedic shoes or orthotics: These specialized products will ease some of the stress on the heel. Consult with a medical provider about the best options for your particular situation.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT): During this procedure, high-energy shockwave impulses stimulate the healing process in damaged plantar fascia tissue. ESWT has not shown consistent results but since it’s noninvasive and involves minimal risk it is sometimes tried before surgery is considered. Surgery is considered only after at least 12 months of aggressive nonsurgical treatment.
  • Physical therapy: In addition to exercises like the ones mentioned below, a physical therapy program may involve specialized ice treatments, massage, and medication to decrease inflammation around the plantar fascia.
  • Night splints: Most people sleep with their feet pointed down. This relaxes the plantar fascia and is one of the reasons for morning heel pain. A night splint stretches the plantar fascia while you sleep. Although it can be difficult to sleep with, a night splint is very effective and does not have to be used once the pain is gone.

Exercises:

Foot stretches and exercises can help plantar fasciitis by relieving pain, improving muscle strength, and promoting flexibility in the foot muscles and ligaments. Performing these simple exercises three to four times a day can help alleviate symptoms faster. You should complete your first set as soon as you wake up in the morning. Talk to your doctor about other safe exercises that can help.

1.Calf muscles stretches:

Muscle tightness in the feet and calves can make the pain of plantar fasciitis worse. Loosening the calf muscles can relieve the pain.

  • Lean your hands against a wall
  • Straighten the knee of the affected leg and bend the other knee in front, flat on the ground
  • There should be a stretching sensation in the heel and calf of the extended leg
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Repeat two to three times

2. Rolling Stretch

  • Place a round object under the foot and rolling back and forth can help loosen up the foot muscles. People can also use a rolling pin, golf ball, or specialized foam roller for this
  • Sit tall on a chair
  • Roll a round object under the arch of the foot
  • Roll for 2 minutes

3.Stretching the plantar fascia:

In order to specifically stretch the fascia itself:

  • Sitting on a chair, cross the injured heel over the other leg
  • Hold the foot in your opposite hand
  • Pull the toes toward the shin to create tension in the arch of the foot
  • Place the other hand on the bottom of the foot to feel for tension in the plantar fascia
  • Use a towel to grasp and stretch the foot if it is difficult to hold otherwise
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Repeat two to three times

4. Foot flexes:

Flexing the foot increases blood flow to the area and relieves tension in the calves, which can help with pain. This exercise uses an elastic stretch band.

  • Sit on the floor with legs straight
  • Wrap the elastic band around your foot, holding the ends in your hands
  • Gently point the toes away from the body
  • Slowly return to starting position
  • Repeat 10 times

5.Towel Curls:

Curling a hand towel or facecloth with the toes can stretch the foot and calf muscles. Try doing these stretches before walking or doing any other morning tasks. Use the following steps:

  • Sit on a chair with both feet flat and a small towel in front of the feet
  • Grasp the center of the towel with your toes
  • Curl the towel towards you
  • Relax the foot and repeat five times

       6. Marble pick up 

Picking up a marble with the toes will flex and stretch the foot muscles. Use the following steps:

  • Sit on a chair with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Place 20 marbles and a bowl at your feet
  • Pick up one marble at a time by curling your toes, and place the marble into the bowl
  • Repeat 20 times

       7. Heel drop / toe raises

   Body weight is used to stretch the plantar fascia  

  • Put a rolled towel on the ground or use a small step or step stool 
  • Stand with only your toes on the towel / step 
  • Use both feet to raise your body weight with your toes ( toe raises)
  • Then use just the affected foot to slowly lower your body back to the ground (or step height)
  • Repeat 20 times 

If symptoms persist, speak to your provider about other treatment options.


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