Stabbing pain in the heel, that is usually worse in the morning, is usually one of the most inconveniencing symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by inflamed tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This condition is most common among the middle aged and is due to straining the ligament that further supports the arch of your foot. It is the most common cause of heel pain, and although imaging may be required, it can be self-diagnosable and most importantly self-treatable. Should you suspect you may suffer from plantar fasciitis, you should seek the help of a health care professional to make sure you don’t have a more serious, underlying condition, but for the most part, plantar fasciitis is very easy to treat.

When we find ourselves dealing with such an injury to tendons, ligaments or joints, the best option to find the tools we need to cure or aid in the recovery of the injury, would be to seek the help of a physical therapist. Physical therapy is a great avenue to gauge the nature of injuries and strength, while learning tools, stretches, and exercises that can boost our recovery, possibly cure our injury and help us prevent the same injury from occurring again in the future. There are many exercises you can do from home that a physical therapist will recommend. In addition to night splints, supportive footwear, and taping of the foot to add support, the following exercises have been proven to be effective and aid in the healing and recovery from plantar fasciitis, allowing one to further evade the operating room.

If you were to perform a simple google search, the first exercise or method of relief you might find is the ball massage. When you find yourself suffering from a plantar fasciitis flare up, it’s always a good idea to first let the pain and swelling subside before you actively try to rehabilitate the tendon. However, if it is taking a while for the irritation to subside, the ball massage or an ice massage is definitely the first step you may want to take. This exercise calls for a tennis ball or a bottle of frozen water. Simply place the frozen bottle or tennis ball on the floor, place the arch of your foot over the object while adding just a little pressure, and begin moving your foot backwards and forwards, slowly over the object. This will help you keep the affected ligament loose, and if you use the frozen water, can also help reduce swelling. If you suffer regularly from flare ups of this ligament, doing this massage is a great idea whether you are having a flare or not. It keeps things loose, as we mentioned, and can deflect and ward off inflammation from occurring, further preventing any future ligament aggravation (1).

A second alternative method would be to stretch out that ligament in particular. It may be slightly uncomfortable, but the benefits definitely exceed the pain. Stretching your ligament is an easy thing to do, simply use your hand to pull your toes back until you feel stretching in the ball of your foot or your heel, and hold it for about 30 seconds. By utilizing this stretch, you can keep that occasionally aggravated ligament at bay by keeping this loose. Whether you are suffering at the moment or not, if you have ever had a problem with plantar fasciitis, this is definitely an exercise you may want to do regularly to prevent recurrence (1).

Because those who suffer from plantar fasciitis typically notice that their pain is far worse in the mornings that at any other point in their day, there is an exercise you can perform in your bed before you get up, and it can further aid in the reduction of your pain. Calf stretching in bed is a good way to prepare your affected ligament for those first steps out of bed. Calf muscles have a tendency to get tight during a full night’s rest, and when calf muscles get tight, they have a tendency to pull on the heel bone, further aggravating your plantar and making it prone to injury. Keeping your calf loose and well stretched can very well be the answer to reducing the amount of times you aggravate it. All you need is either a belt, a stretch band, a towel, or you can even use your hands. You can perform this exercise by simply placing the object of your choice on the palm of your foot, slowly pulling the upper part of your foot back towards your knee until you feel that “stretching sensation,” in the calf and hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat up to five times in repetition. This too, keeps your affected ligament loose and mobile and can further aid in preventing future aggravation. This exercise alone has been proven to improve pain levels drastically as well, from those who are actively suffering. Should you find this helpful, if you do it in bed, you should do it regularly whether you are in bed or not. Whether you bend over to touch your toes to stretch your calves, use a stair calf stretch, or any stretch necessary to keep those calf muscles loose and limber, all of it will certainly help (1).

There are several ways you can prevent plantar fasciitis as well. The same measures you would take to reduce a flare up if you are a sufferer should be taken whether you are a chronic sufferer, or have never suffered at all from plantar problems. Always stretching your calves before running or walking is a must to prevent injuries to the plantar or elsewhere. Wearing supportive shoes that offer fabulous support to the arch is another way to prevent future problems. You should also regularly replace your shoes to ensure that the proper quality of support that your foot receives maintains a level of consistency. It is also very important that you maintain a healthy body weight to further keep unnecessary pressure not only off of your plantar, but other ligaments and joints as well. Also, if you stand in one spot, regularly, such as a cashier would, it’s also advised that you use a padded floor mat under your feet for further support and prevention (2).       

With these helpful exercises, tips and suggestions, you should find relief in no time. Although, if you are a chronic sufferer, and find that these tips and tricks aren’t helpful in offering relief, you should always seek the help of a medical professional as we previously mentioned. Other measures can sometimes be taken to further offer relief, however, hopefully you will find that these suggestions do give you the relief you need to further improve your quality of life and reduce flare ups.

Sources:

1. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/plantar-fasciitis-topic-overview#1

2. http://www.moveforwardpt.com/symptomsconditionsdetail.aspx?cid=a2395ee9-08bb-47cc-9edc-1943e2fdbf2e