It’s another beautiful morning. Your alarm jolted you promptly awake and you’re ready to seize the day. But upon stepping out of the comfort of your bed you noticed something quite unpleasant; a dull or stabbing pain in the heel of your foot.
If you find yourself suffering from aching, throbbing or sharp pains in the heel of one or both of your feet, this article is for you…and best of all, there is relief in sight!
What you may be experiencing is called Plantar Fasciitis, and you’re not alone. In fact, it is estimated that plantar fasciitis affects nearly 10% of the adult population (J Bone Joint Surg Am 2009).
The prevalence of this condition is both a blessing and a curse. While having it is certainly no walk in the park, the fact that so many individuals are afflicted has resulted in a range of natural plantar fasciitis treatments and foot orthotic solutions that work well.
But first, let’s learn more about what this condition is, symptoms indicative of diagnosis, causes, risk factors and what you can do about it…
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Your feet both have “fascia” that reaches from your heels all the way to your toes. This “fascia” is a fibrous, tough band of tissue that works to support the arch of your foot and muscles necessary for proper movement. It attaches to the heel bone on one side of your foot, and spreads out like a spider web to attach to the base of each of your five toes.
However, when the fascia is overextended or stretched beyond a normal range of motion, or worn from repetitive or high impact movements, it can become inflamed and riddled with micro tears that cause pain and discomfort.
Originally, doctors mistakenly presumed pain originating from the heels of your feet were due to “heel spurs” (bone like growths), rather than plantar fasciitis. Doctors now have a better understanding of how the fascia of your foot and corresponding stress to it can cause pain, inflammation and swelling associated with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis may affect your dominant foot more than the other, or both simultaneously, and is common among runners and those that work on their feet all day.
Symptoms & Diagnosis of Plantar Fasciitis
Unlike bone and structural issues, plantar fasciitis affects the soft tissues of your feet, meaning that this particular ailment cannot be detected with traditional X-ray examination.
As such, plantar fasciitis is typically diagnosed based on largely on symptoms experienced as well as health history and lifestyle factors. That said, an x-ray may still be prudent in order to rule out other causes such as a stress fracture.
Symptoms Indicative of Plantar Fasciitis Include:
- Pain that worsens after long periods of rest (such as when waking up in the morning)
- Sharp, aching or burning pain in the sole of your foot, commonly localized to the heel
- Sudden or gradually increasing pain in the heel of one or both feet
- Heel pain that may improve slightly with movement only to return with a vigor at rest
- Heel pain or discomfort that simultaneously builds with rapid weight gain or obesity
- Foot pain that prevails for more than a few days or worsens after activity
- Redness, swelling or warmth in the proximity of the heel
- Discomfort or difficulty standing on the affected foot or feet
If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms, either abruptly or over a period of time, it is important that you seek medical attention in order to rule out other ailments and to get an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Once identified, there are a range of natural remedies, treatments and preventative measures you can take at home to treat and improve plantar fasciitis. However, early intervention is your best option, and may help to shorten the recovery time needed.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
A majority of plantar fasciitis cases are initiated by inflammatory responses, resulting in alterations to the tissues of the heels. These changes are generally represented by a degenerative change in the fascia tissue of the foot, resulting in diminishing support for the arches of the feet and a reduction in your foot’s ability to absorb, shock, weight and pressure effectively.
This inflammation is often instigated by micro-tears in the fascia, brought on by overuse (such as from sports or work), or injuries. Inflammation often leads to pain, redness, and swelling (known as perifascial edema)
The body is an amazing machine, but sometimes its mechanisms are too smart for their own good. Case in point, when your body attempts to heal these micro-tears to the fascia, the result is a thicker fascia that is less flexible than it was prior to the damage.
The result? A loss in range of motion and reduced shock and weight absorption capabilities. Your heel becomes less able to “push off” the ground with significant force, and withstanding one’s own bodyweight can become a bothersome experience, causing the afflicted individual to often compensate by changing posture and shifting weight to the other foot.
This continuity of repeated micro-tearing, inflammation and repair triggers a damaging cycle that can lead to collagen degeneration, regular swelling and even structural changes.
Preventative Care & Natural Treatments
By now you’ve likely surmised that having plantar fasciitis isn’t exactly a good thing. In fact, it can be downright debilitating for those that need to be on their feet much of the day.
But despite its chronic nature, there are natural, battle-tested remedies and measures you can take to reduce or even eliminate symptoms.
Read on to learn more about the top methods to naturally combat plantar fasciitis..
Orthotic insoles are a branch of medicine that encompasses the prescription or provision and use of a wide range of artificial medical devices, such as braces or splints to aid in preventative care and treatment.
Orthotics is a very effective plantar fasciitis treatment, with success rates from high quality orthotics suppliers such as naturalfootorthotics.com reaching as high as 99%.
If you’re looking for ways to treat plantar fasciitis, natural orthotic options are one of the first lines of defense to consider.
Products such as the Stabilizer from Natural Foot Orthotics, comes in options suitable for a range of arch types, from medium to high arches, while the Slim Stabilizer is a perfect option for those with flat feet or sunken arches.
In addition to arch support, Natural Foot Orthotics also offers a range of orthotic cushions and fashionable orthotic wear that works with sandals, high heels and any footwear in-between.
Foot Orthotics Proven to Work:
Exercises For Plantar Fasciitis
Studies have demonstrated that stretching and calisthenic exercises for the foot and heel can aid in reducing discomfort and pain, while helping improve range of motion and stability of the foot. In fact, The American Orthopedic Food and Ankle Society, as well as the Mayo Clinic recommend the following stretches and exercises as an effective natural treatment:
1. Achilles Tendon Stretches
Take the leg of the impacted foot and place that leg behind the other leg, with the toes of your rear foot pointed in the direction of the heel of your other foot. Next, lean against a wall or other flat stable surface and bend your front knee whilst maintaining your back leg in a straight position. Hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds and repeat multiple times per day.
2. Towel Stretches
Simply take a towel from your home and roll it up. Next, place the towel under the ball of your impacted foot and roll your foot back and forth over the towel to massage the affected tissue.
3. Toe Stretches
Cross the leg of your impacted foot over the other leg. Pull the toes of your affected foot backwards towards your shin. Hold this for 10-20 seconds at a time and repeat multiple times per day.
4. Thumb Massage
Simply utilize your thumbs and rub left to right over the arch of the impacted foot.
5. Squat Stretches
Spread your feet apart wider than shoulder width with one foot in front of the other. Lean forward, flex your knees and squat. Try to maintain heel contact with the floor for as long as you can, holding for 10-20 seconds. Repeat multiple times a day.
More Tips Plantar Fasciitis Tips
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
It stands to reason that any additional weight placed on your impacted foot can cause further damage, pain and discomfort. One of the best ways to combat plantar fasciitis is to attain and maintain a healthy body weight. Generally this means a body mass index (BMI) of 19-25 for most individuals.
Diet is both directly and indirectly used as a complimentary treatment for plantar fasciitis. A healthy diet can reduce inflammation, stress, improve sleep and even aid in weight loss.
Foods good for reducing inflammation and as part of a healthy diet include fresh vegetables, fruits, green juices, raw and natural foods, wild caught fish, nuts and seeds, probiotic foods and lean proteins.
Rest, Massage Ice and Heat
Often the first and simplest thing to do to treat plantar fasciitis is to simply take a load off. Rest, ice, and massage go a long way to provide comfort. Consider time off work or a break from repetitive or weight bearing activities. The time needed for healing will vary person to person, and you’ll need to pay attention to how your body reacts and feels before returning to normal activities.
Elevation of your foot may also help. Consider elevation and ice for periods of 15-20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times daily. Once swelling subsides, massage and heat can be applied to further healing and relief.
Followed the above advice but are still struggling to find relief? If at first you don’t succeed, consider reaching out to a physical therapist. These professionals deal with treatments for plantar fasciitis on a regular basis, and will be able to assess your situation as well as prescribe and help you with a treatment, stretching and exercise plan to jumpstart your recovery.
Physical therapists can also help you learn how to efficiently move more efficiently and carry out activities in ways that reduce stress and impact to your feet and heels.
With plantar fasciitis affecting more than 10% of the adult population, chances are you know someone affected. If you or a loved one have been struggling with heel pain despite your best efforts to remediate the situation, it’s time to consider natural treatments for plantar fasciitis that you can begin implementing today.
From simple massage and therapeutic exercises, to comfortable and supportive foot orthotics, there are a number of options to explore, each of which have been proven to be highly effective at repair, relief and support.
We hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions about foot orthotics and how our line of expertly designed orthotic footwear can help, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to hear from you.