Thomas Cotter, DC, DACRB
We all either have had or know someone who has plantar fasciitis (PF). It plagues the old and the young, and the fit and the sedentary alike. The plantar fascia is a ligament that supports the foot when load is placed on it. PF develops when that ligament gets strained.
Think of it more like a sprained ankle and less like a tight muscle that needs to be stretched. It needs to be moved and challenged in an appropriate manner to heal, but not overloaded or it will get worse. There are plenty of gimmicky or misinformed products out there that do nothing but extend the life of PF. Below are some dos and don’ts.
Plantar Fasciitis DOs
DO: Walk barefoot at home as long as your foot will tolerate it. (could be 20 min. or it could be 2 hrs+). This will help to desensitize the plantar fascia.
DO: Find an exercise that causes mild discomfort, but doesn’t greatly increase your pain. This increases blood flow and challenges the plantar fascia to rebuild.
DO: Wear a store bought orthotic the rest of the time if needed. This can help reduce irritation and allow healing between exercises
DO: Be patient. The plantar fascia needs to remodel and desensitize. You should start to notice improvement in 10-14 days, but could take 6-8 weeks for full resolution.
To Start Try: 15 calf raises two times a day
Plantar Fasciitis DON’Ts
DON’T: Sleep in a Strassburg Sock for more than a few nights (foot stretching sock). It can help when acute, but long term the constant stretch will aggravate the plantar fascia.
DON’T: Wear an orthopedic boot. This will decrease your pain as you wear it, but the lack of activity will deprive the plantar fascia of blood flow and nutrients, and will only make it worse once you take the boot off.
DON’T: Have a plantar fascia release surgery. This will temporarily decrease pain by taking tension off the plantar fascia, but will inevitably return as you resume your normal life.
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