The best plantar fasciitis treatment - is the one that works

I get asked 10 times a week 'what is the best plantar fasciitis treatment', and I say the same thing every time - there is no one best treatment, like with most other orthopaedic conditions, the best treatment is a multi-faceted approach - in this case composed of stretching, massage, foot and ankle strengthening and icing.


Let me say that again but a bit louder:

The ONLY treatment for plantar fasciitis is a full and multilayered rehab program.

But that's fine. Don't worry!

The Osteo fitness collective is going to show you how to beat this stubborn condition once and for all.

And hopefully well within 6 weeks!

The first step to beating any condition like this is EDUCATION.

Understanding why your foot hurt's damm much is half the battle. So let's go!

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is foot pain on the sole, especially the heel of the foot:

  • Most commonly affects people between 40-60 yrs
  • Plantar fasciitis is caused by degeneration, irritation and inflammation under the bottom of the foot 
  • The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot 
  • Involved in helping us walk/ gait 

Signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis usually include:

  • Initial insidious onset of heel pain 
  • Intense pain during the first steps when walking or pain after a period of inactivity 
  • Pain starts to reduce as the activity continues (not always though)
  • Typically worsens at the end of the day or first thing in the morning 

How is it diagnosed?

  • On observation, patient presents with changed gait 
  • On palpation, pain is reproduced over the heel during examination. 
  • limited ankle range of motion on passive movement with the knee extended. 
  • Positive Windlass test.

What sort of plantar fasciitis treatments are out there?

And here we are, the bit I know you all came for, the plantar fasciitis treatment. Now the first you all need to understand is that you will need the two Ps of recovery -

PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE

Plantar fasciitis treatment does not work over night, it takes time and there is not a single individual method to curing plantar fasciitis, you need to apply ALL of the following treatments if you're looking for a solid recovery with no repercussions.


The 10 steps to plantar fasciitis recovery

If you do each step below over 6 weeks then you are giving yourself the best chance to beat your plantar fasciitis and get back to what you love doing the most.

1. Self massage

Your need to massage the base of your foot 3 times a day for 5 minutes. Deep and slow, all along the sole of your foot, deep into the toe joints, along the arch and into the heel. Use some oil and be firm. An alternative is to use a massaging tool.

massage for plantar fasciitisGentle but firm self massage of the plantar fasciitis is a must

2. Stretching

Fascia and connective tissue comes from your calf, wraps around the heel of your foot and then forms the plantar fascia. Therefore it stands to reason that stretching the calf muscles is essential for effective plantar fasciitis treatment.

For proper foot and ankle functioning and pain relief all of the other muscles around the foot and ankle need to be tension free. Use our foot and ankle stretching exercises 3 times per day to achieve this.

stretch for plantar fasciitisStretching out the calf is essential for plantar fasciitis treatment.

3. Mobilising

Restrictions around the and foot and ankle joints can compound and put unnecessary strain on the plantar fascia, keeping you foot and ankle mobile is essential for the proper biomechanical functioning of all aspects of you foot. Use our foot and ankle mobility exercises at least 3 times per day.

ankle mobility for plantar fasciitisAnkle mobility exercises are important to ensure proper foot and ankle function, in this image louise's foot is drawing out the alphabet

4. Strengthening

Ensuring that all of the structure around the foot is essential to avoid 'overloading' your plantar fascia. Use our foot and ankle strengthening exercises at least once a day over the course of the plantar fasciitis treatment.

foot and ankle strengthening for plantar fasciitisFoot and ankle strengthening is essential for plantar fasciitis rehabilitation by improving support for all the structures of the foot

5. Icing

Your foot condition is essentially an inflammatory one and ice is the best cure. Here at the Osteo fitness collective we believe that one of the best things you can do for your foot condition is to freeze a plastic bottle of water and then role it under your foot for at least 20 minutes per day. Push down hard onto it so the ice penetrates the tissues. This can be done even when sitting in the office! 

If you don't want to use an ice bottle then there are other plantar fasciitis foot rollers out there.

Icing for plantar fasciitisUsing an ice bottle to role along the bottom of your foot is a great way to reduce pain and inflammation

6. Anti-inflammatory medications - NSAIDs

Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications aim to reduce inflammation which can help to reduce pain as well as actually treating the condition. We don't recommend NSAIDs lightly and you MUST consult your GP or pharmacist before taking any medication.

7. Adequate rest

It is important that you try to recognise and isolate any activity which may be causing your pain otherwise none of these plantar fasciitis treatments will work. If you've suddenly start walking to work and your foot is hurting then perhaps try and cycle. Rest is a very important part of recovery.

8. Footwear

What you wear on your feet is just as important as any of the treatment protocols above - if you have recognised that one particular pair of shoes are giving you grief then you need to give them a rest. Perhaps it's those stilettos on Saturday night, or your beautiful new leather oxford brogues you just simply can't take off - I'm sorry but you need to ditch them. Get some shoes with adequate cushioning that you know are not causing you the problems.

9. Weight loss

Yup, its on the list I'm afraid to say. If you're carrying some excess baggage around the middle then it may have to go. All that extra weight is simply too much for your precious plantar fascia to bear. Use our workout inspiration if you're thinking about shedding a few pounds.

10. Specific PF exercises

Use specific exercises for plantar fasciitis, at least 3 times per day. These include plantar fascia stretches, mid foot strengthening and so on. Check out our recommended exercises for plantar fasciitis or take a look at the video below.

Exercises for plantar fasciitis

We've made this handy video to demonstrates the best exercises for beating plantar fasccitis - it includes some of the icing, stretching , mobilising and strengthening exercises listed above.

And if that none of that works?

If none of that works and you've followed all the steps properly then you are one of the very few unlucky ones, but don't despair - there are still loads of plantar fasciitis treatment options.

See a therapist

A therapist like myself, or other musculoskeletal expert will invariably be able to identify and treat your condition by looking for tensions, restrictions and imbalances in the body.

Orthotics

We don't often recommend orthotics or insoles as we believe for true recovery and prevention strengthening the foot and ankle is far more superior. However, there is some limited evidence for their use and some people swear by them, so give them a go, why not. Just note there is no evidence to support the use of expensive custom made orthotics over the the cheaper shop bought ones.

Laser and shock-wave therapy

Again not something I use or usually recommend to my patients, but some people have reported benefit from these types of therapies.

Surgery

If all of the above fails then there is always surgery - its pretty brutal though and something we would not wish on our worst enemies.

AUTHORS AND CREATORS

This page was written and composed by experts in their fields;

OLIVER WAKEFIELD M.ost
REGISTERED OSTEOPATH

Oliver is a registered Osteopath in the UK with a particular interest in sports and rehabilitation - he practises in Devon, Southwest England.

LOUISE PRATLEY M.ost
REGISTERED OSTEOPATH

Louise is a registered Osteopath, fitness model and enthusiast as well as a business and social influencer. She also practises as an Osteopath in Devon, UK.

Oliver and Louise specialise in helping people get over their pain and get back to living the lives they want to be living - follow this link to find out more about us.

We welcome any one who wants to get in touch with us here at the OFC for any reason - please use the form on our contact us page.


All the information and advice in this website should be followed with common sense and expert help - follow this link for our full disclaimer.