Whilst I’ve always loved walking, my recent daily walks have definitely kept me sane over the many long months of COVID-19 lockdown, despite only being able to walk within my LGA or 5km from home. However, my excessive walking has also left me in crippling pain due to developing heel spurs and Plantar Fasciitis (along with a recent ankle injury all on the same foot!).
It would seem that I’m not the only one. After reaching out to friends for any advice on healing tips, it seems as though quite a few people in my age group (30s) are also suffering from this agonising foot pain. Although one of the common reliefs is to try to stop walking or avoid high impact activities such as jumping or running, for me walking is my sanity, so I have tried to limit my kms instead and avoid walking over 10-12km and slow down my pace.
So, what is Plantar Fasciitis and, how can you ease the pain and be free of it? I share my top tips below for a hopefully speedy recovery.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is Latin and means ‘inflammation of the plantar fascia’. Often associated with heel spurs, this is a common foot complaint that people of all ages can suffer from. The plantar fascia is the band of tissue that runs at the bottom of the foot between the heel and the toes. When your plantar fascia is overstretched, this can cause inflammation and pain at the point where the plantar fascia is attached to the heel bone.
What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?
Typically, people suffering from Plantar Fasciitis will feel a sharp pain on the underside of the heel, particularly first thing in the morning when you step out of bed or after a long period of sitting down. Usually, this pain will subside after walking around for a while. Heel pain can also worsen after long periods of standing on your feet or after a long walk or playing sports such as tennis.
What causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is mainly caused by over-pronation (rolling in of the ankle and flattening of the arch) and incorrect foot function.
Contributing factors also include
- Job that involves long periods of walking or standing
- Poor footwear which is worn out or has little support
- People with flat feet
How to ease Plantar Fasciitis?
Fortunately, there are many simple exercises you can do at home if you’re suffering from Plantar Fasciitis. However, for best results, it’s recommended that you do each of the below exercises three or four times a day, starting when you first get out of bed.
After these exercises, it’s best to avoid walking barefoot and try to wear a pair of shoes with orthotic insoles or orthotic thongs.
Avoid barefoot walking
The first thing to do is to avoid walking barefoot as much as possible, particularly first thing in the morning as this is when it will be most painful. I wear orthotic thongs or flip flops which are easy to slide my feet into, but you can also purchase orthotic slippers and orthotic sandals or other shoes that you can insert orthotic insoles into.
- Stand facing a wall with your hands placed shoulder-width apart against the wall.
- Put the leg you want to stretch approximately one step behind your other leg.
- Bend your front knee whilst keeping your back heel on the floor until you feel a stretch.
- Hold the stretch for 20 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch four times.
- Sit down in a chair and place a ball (tennis ball, golf ball or equivalent) under your foot.
- Roll the ball back and forwards from heel to toe for approximately two minutes.
- Once you can, stand up and perform the same exercise.
- Place a rolled towel or scarf under the ball of your foot.
- Holding both ends of the towel or scarf, gently pull your foot towards you while keeping your knee straight.
- Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Repeat four times.
Note: when performing the above exercises, you should feel a slight pulling feeling. You should not feel pain. If you do, please consult your doctor or podiatrist.
Whilst you sleep, your plantar fascia relaxes and contracts, causing you to receive sharp stabbing or burning pain in the morning. To avoid this, try the Strassburg Sock. This is designed to be worn at night during sleep or a lengthy period of rest. It is recommended for the best results, to wear the sock for a minimum of six hours per night, every night until you have seven pain-free mornings in a row. As part of an independent medical research study, the number of nights averaged 18.5 with 97.8% of patients recovering within eight weeks.
Learn more about the Strassburg Sock.
Other things to consider
- Reduce walking or running as much as possible – try low-impact exercises instead like swimming and cycling
- If you need to walk, reduce the distance
- Walk at a slower pace
- Rest and keep off your foot until the inflammation goes down
- Ice your foot to treat inflammation
- Take pain relief or use ibuprofen gel
- Invest in some orthotic insoles or orthotic footwear and wear shoes that are supportive (I recommend Footlogics) and, avoid wearing high heels
- Avoid walking barefoot, particularly first thing in the morning and on hard surfaces
- Lose weight – if you’re overweight, this can put pressure on your feet
Although I’m still suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, the pain is slowly subsiding. It can take a good six to 12 months to be pain-free, but hopefully, these tips will help you recover faster and get back to what you love best.