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The plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the toes and the heel, becomes inflamed when too much stress is placed on the arch of the foot. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 90 percent of plantar fasciitis sufferers recover with conservative (nonsurgical) treatment in just a few months. If you experience pain in the heel or sole of one or both feet, especially when you first arise in the morning, home treatments may assist in relieving the pain. Call your health care provider if there is no improvement after two weeks, or if you experience swelling, numbness, tingling or redness in the heels, toes or feet.
When you experience intense pain, stay off your feet and put them up for several hours a day to relieve the strain on the plantar fascia. When you are able to return to your exercise routine, avoid overexercising. Reduce the distances you walk or run, or switch to a low-impact activity such as swimming or cycling to avoid straining the plantar fascia.
Apply an icepack to the painful area three or four times a day for up to 20 minutes to relieve pain and inflammation. Massaging the sole and heel with an ice cube several times a day is also helpful.
According to the Mayo Clinic, over-the-counter arch supports relieve the tension on the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles by redistributing your weight during movement. Some manufacturers offer arch support with magnets, but there is no reliable evidence that these products are more effective than those without magnets.
The University of Illinois recommends stretching exercises to reduce tension along the arch of the foot. Warm up first, then stretch gently without bouncing. Do two to three sets of each exercise per day, six to seven days a week. Calf stretches, heel stretches and arch stretches all will help ease the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may relieve the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis. Check with your health care provider if you have any reason to believe that these medications may not be safe for you.
Support Your Feet
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, our feet absorb hundreds of tons of pressure in an average day, making them the most injury-prone part of our bodies. Wearing protective and supportive shoes is essential for good foot health, particularly when injury has occurred. Shoes should have a low to moderate heel, and good arch and heel support. Don’t go barefoot, even in the house, and stay away from ballet flats, flip-flops and worn-out running shoes.
Commercially available night splints stretch the plantar fascia while you sleep, helping the tissue to heal.