The Active Person's Guide to Recovering from Plantar Fasciitis
If you're the kind of person who spends time exercising and keeping fit, it can feel unfair when you're struck down with something that hinders your routine, like plantar fasciitis. You'll know that you need to rest, but may not be happy about having to sit still for too long. This guide will talk you through heel pain treatments you can do at home and exercises that are safe to carry on with.
Regular Rest and Icing
Resting your feet when possible is essential. This is particularly important after periods of walking and standing. Put your feet up and help ease the pain with ice. Wrap ice in a towel and place your foot on it for 10 - 20 minutes. This will help reduce inflammation and ease pain. You can repeat this 3 - 4 times a day.
Get Your Blood Flowing
The recovery from plantar fasciitis can take a while. Help the healing along by encouraging nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to flow to the area. Massage is an excellent way to achieve this while also easing the pain. An easy massage technique to do while you're resting is to place your foot over a tennis ball and press while rolling the ball around in different directions. A few minutes of this massage should loosen up the plantar fascia and get your blood moving.
Stretch It Out
Stretching can reduce pain, help keep your muscles flexible and aid healing. You need to do stretching exercises that involve the foot and the calf. The following specific stretch is a good one to start with. Studies have shown it to improve the outcome for plantar fasciitis sufferers.
- Start by crossing the affected leg over your other leg, allowing you to reach the injured foot
- Take hold of the toes on the affected foot and pull them back towards your shin to create tension in the plantar fascia (arch). When you touch the stretched arch, it should feel firm.
- Hold this stretch for ten seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Repeat the stretch routine three times a day.
Continue Keeping Fit
You'll be glad to know that you can and should continue to exercise, but slowly and with caution. It's a good idea to avoid exercise that involves the heel striking the ground — particularly when the area is inflamed. Try water-based activities like swimming and aqua aerobics. You can also continue to stay fit using gym machines like elliptical striders, rowing machines and exercise bikes. Yoga and mat-based Pilates are also a good choice. Get your podiatrist to recommend training shoes for your gym-based exercise.