After a deep sleep, you should feel refreshed and ready to take on the day, but many Canadians wake up with foot pain instead.
Do you have pain in your heels and through the arches of your feet? You may notice pain in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a while. If so, you could be dealing with plantar fasciitis. This condition is caused by a swelling of the plantar fascia, which is the main tendon that holds up your foot arch.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. Don’t let plantar fasciitis slow you down. We’ve put together a few tips and exercises to help you manage foot pain and inflammation:
Tips to Help Manage Plantar Fasciitis
Unlike other muscles, the plantar fascia has very little flexibility. It can easily become irritated, inflamed, over-used, or torn. Plantar fasciitis is painful, but thankfully, there are effective treatments for it. Here are a few health tips for easing plantar fasciitis:
Use Supportive Footwear
Wear supportive, properly-fitted footwear to control the motion of your foot. Excessive rolling will place extra stress on your plantar fascia, heel bone, and Achilles tendon.
Take Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medication
While NSAIDs will not treat the cause of your foot pain, they will alleviate some of its symptoms. An OTC anti-inflammatory medication can help on days when your heel pain is especially challenging.
Ice the Affected Area
You can bring down inflammation using a bottle of ice. Keep a small water bottle or pop bottle, filled with water, in your freezer. Place it under the arch of your foot, apply some pressure, and gently roll your foot across the bottle. The ice will soothe your pain and the rolling will help stretch your foot muscles.
Consider the Tenex Procedure
If you experience chronic foot pain, your physician may recommend surgery. The Tenex procedure is a minimally invasive treatment. It uses an ultrasound frequency to break up damaged tissue that causes chronic pain.
Book to See a Canadian Certified Pedorthist
Book a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to see if you require custom foot orthotics to support and correct your foot. Depending on your individual biomechanics, custom foot orthotics can make a world of difference, especially if you have plantar fasciitis.
Lifestyle & Dietary Changes
The foods we eat, and the activities we do, all affect our foot health. If your plantar fasciitis results from overactivity, refrain from high-impact exercise like jogging. Instead, try to exercise in ways that put less strain on your feet; for example, swimming or cycling.
Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of the foot. Do your best to avoid foods that can trigger inflammation, including red meat and refined grains/sugar.
Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
With a bit of daily maintenance, you can alleviate the discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis. Physical therapy and stretching exercises are effective ways to address foot pain.
Set aside a few minutes each day to stretch out your feet. We’ve put together a few exercises that you can use:
Do you experience heel pain as soon as you get up? Here’s what to do: before you get out of bed, warm up your foot muscles by doing some ankle stretches. Pull your toes back toward your shin to open up the arch of your foot. Once you’re out of bed, continue loosening up your muscles with a few calf and hamstring stretches.
Plantar Fascia Massage
A gentle massage is a great way to treat sore feet. You can try a self-massage or schedule one at a professional massage business. If the massage becomes painful at any point, be sure to let your massage therapist know.
To massage your own feet, sit in a chair, and cross your leg over your knee. Then, rub the tissues of your feet, starting with your toes, and working your way toward the heel. If this causes any pain, apply less pressure.
To do this exercise, you may need to hold on to a railing for support. Start by standing on a stair, with the balls of your feet planted on the step, and your heels hanging off the edge.
As you grip the railing for support, raise and lower your heels, using the balls of your feet to stand. You’ll feel this stretch along your lower limbs and calf muscles. Try to repeat this 10 times with each foot, once a day. If this exercise becomes painful, either ease up on the stretch or use this exercise after the foot has healed slightly. This exercise can be too aggressive if used too early in the healing process.
The goal of this stretch is to work the muscles in your toes. Begin seated, with one foot placed on a towel (remember to take off your socks first). Then, scrunch your toes so the towel pinches toward you. Release, and repeat.
Seated Foot Stretch
You can do this stretch sitting down, so it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. First, find a comfortable chair to sit in. Take one of your feet, and cross the heel over the opposite leg. Slowly and gently pull your toes away from you. You can feel along the bottom of your foot to check for tension in the plantar fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis Causes
Depending on your job and lifestyle, you might spend most of your day on your feet. The shoes we wear, the way we stand, and the activities we do all affect our feet.
Like many health conditions, there is more than just one cause for plantar fasciitis. This condition can be affected by:
- Footwear that’s too big or small. Do the sides of your shoes rub against your feet? Are your feet always moving around in your shoes? Improperly fitting footwear can lead to chronic plantar fasciitis.
- Insufficient support. If you like to walk barefooted, it might be time to change your ways. Supportive footwear is one of the key ways to treat and manage plantar fasciitis.
- Poor posture. The weight of our body rests on our feet. The way we stand (and sit) affects that. Your posture will depend on the shape of your feet. A Pedorthist can examine your feet and create a custom orthotic that’s designed to support your body.
Plantar fasciitis is painful and affects millions of Canadians. The good news is that this food condition is treatable!
If you think you are developing plantar fasciitis, you can book an appointment with your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist. We can help you get started with a treatment program right away. Contact your local Pedorthist today!
By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C), Prince Albert, SK