Fitness Friday Video: The Do’s and Don’ts of Treating Plantar Fasciitis

By Lisa Christie on 03/09/2012
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It happened to me during my fourth week as a participant at Green Mountain. The sudden increase in activity through Green Mountain’s fitness classes — including aerobics and hill climbing after being relatively sedentary for years — caused my right foot to surrender to plantar fasciitis. A frustrating and often chronic condition of the heel, there are specific do’s and don’ts for treating plantar fasciitis and getting back on your feet (no pun intended).

In today’s Fitness Friday video, senior fitness specialist LynnAnn Covell demonstrates a couple of easy self-care tips to promote healing and feel better sooner. Watch it.  For easy reference, we’ve also repeated some of the points and included a few more suggestions below.  You may need to schedule an appointment with your podiatrist to talk about additional treatments, including shoe inserts and medications.

(Email viewers, visit the blog to view.)

Do’s

  • Rest. It might be the last thing you want to do after getting back your exercise mojo, but it’s necessary for healing. I grudgingly laid off the Zumba® for a few weeks, but it was the best thing I did.
  • Ice and elevation. If you continue movement that places pressure on your foot, even walking, it’s important to ice frequently and elevate to reduce swelling.
  • Stretching. Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the ankle and foot will not only help in your recovery, but will also help to prevent the pain from recurring.

Don’ts

  • Don’t push through the pain. Often a couple of weeks of reduced activity and following the steps above will help.
  • Don’t go barefoot or wear flip-flops. Continue to wear a good pair of sneakers or or another shoe with a low heel.
  • Don’t assume that you’ll never get back to exercising again! Look for alternative exercises that don’t require you to push off your foot, such as swimming, strength training and yoga.

What home remedies have you found the most helpful if you’ve had plantar fasciitis?

 

7 Responses (Add Yours)

  • I have actually done the exercise with the golf ball, works to
    perfection! highly recommend it!

  • Lisa,

    just a quick note to say I think the advice you are offering is tremendous. Most fitness sites do not offer any advice at all for managing damage or injuries. Most to be fair do offer sensible advice to minimise problems – but most healthy people that exercise regularly do know that the odd twinge is almost inevitable. I am a newcomer to this site – have you covered warming up routinesto minimise injury?

  • I’ve used a can of frozen juice in place of the golf ball :-)

  • fitness says:

    Visit a physical therapist for application of Kinesiotape, a specialized tape that helps to support the arch of the foot, and shift the load of putting weight on your foot away from the heel where the plantar fascia attaches. Athletic taping techniques are also helpful and can be learned in one or two sessions with a therapist so you can do them yourself. A nice icing technique is to freeze water in a plastic water bottle (12 to 20 oz. works). Place the bottle on the floor on its side and roll your foot over the bottle. This massages the plantar fascia and ices it at the same time. Someone else commented about using a frozen juice can to do this. That works too!

  • MK says:

    I had major problems with plantar fasciitis while training for a marathon. The two things I found to be most helpful were night splints (the kind that look like a walking cast, not the less-expensive sock-like ones) and doing yoga (particularly downward dog).

  • M-C says:

    Good advice about the icing and ball, but that’s only treatment and not prevention. Seems the problem with the plantar fasciiae is that they’re in balance with the achilles tendons. Tight achilles=plantar pain. I haven’t had a recurrence since I started stretching my achilles every time I wait for a bus :-). Pick a habitual time and keep at it. Stretch your achilles thoroughly at the first plantar twinge. Problem over.

    But another note on treatment – to me it means basically Birkenstocks, but whatever arch support works for you is what’s needed, without necessarily thousands expended on custom orthotics. However I shortened my recovery time from 2 years initially to 2 weeks in the second episode by stumbling on a simple tip in a sports medicine journal. The tendons are at their stiffest when you first get up, so do not let your feet hit the floor in the morning without going straight into the arch support. That initial stiff painful shuffle will otherwise set you back several days on the recovery path, every day. I set my easy slide-in birks down on the floor so that I can’t get out of bed without tripping over them, as my head tends to be foggy at those times too. And that means I’m also protected for those 4am stumbles to the bathroom, as the tendons are especially fragile then too.

  • Brandy says:

    Yoga, frozen water bottle, golf ball & night splinter were all recommended by my MD. What helped me the most after trying to heal for over a year was physical therapy. Using a treatment called SASTM, a specially trained therapist uses plastic tools to rub the bottom of your foot and break up the cross-threaded scar tissue that has built up. It is painful for the first 2-3 appointments but after that it feels quite soothing. Also, to stretch the plantar fascia, use a towel folded length ways to stretch the toes toward your head. This also stretches the calf. Lastly, I have not tried Birks but have found amazing relief in Dansko shoes.

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