How to treat Plantar Fasciitis at home


Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the soft tissue lining on the sole of the foot known as the plantar fascia. The tissue extends from the heel bone, through the arch of the foot to reach the toes. Its function is to help support the arch of the foot, preventing it from flattening. In some people micro tears may develop, due to several reasons, which may coincide with the development of heel pain and inflammation. It is one the most common reasons for heel pain and is typically an overuse injury.

Plantar fasciitis can develop for a number of reasons and is often associated with impact and running sports especially those requiring a lot of toe push off/ landing. Other factors that may cause plantar fasciitis include:

  • Poor foot mechanics - flat arches, weak muscular control of arch (calf muscles, small muscles within the foot)

  • Extreme flat or high arches

  • Decreased core strength

  • Tight calf muscles

  • Traumatic event - e.g. landing on sharp object

  • Other risk factors

  • Weight gain

  • Unaccustomed activity

  • Inadequate footwear

  • Pregnancy

  • Diabetes/arthritis

  • Age

  • Increased time on feet

Signs and symptoms

Commonly, people with plantar fasciitis, report pain in the arch or under heel of their foot which is noticeably worse in the morning or after resting. The pain often eases within the first few steps of walking and returns after sitting. As it progresses pain may be more frequent and persistent through activity.

Plantar fasciitis is a very treatable condition and you can return to your pain-free, full-functioning self. Majority of people notice significant improvement in pain within first couple of months.

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Treatment involves - foot analysis to help identify foot mechanics and weaknesses potentially leading to development of plantar fasciitis. Initially the aim of treatment is to reduce pain. This is done by

  • Resting from aggravating activities

  • Icing the sole of foot, ice massage (freezing up of ice and rolling under sole of foot)

  • Night splints to help foot rest in less aggravating position while sleeping, easing morning pain

  • Optimising ankle range of movement - a good exercise is to think about writing the alphabet with your foot allowing the ankle to move in all directions

  • Trigger ball/ tennis ball massage to sole of foot - gently put pressure of the sole of foot onto ball and roll from heel to and from toes along the arch. This can be done while sitting or standing

  • Gentle calf stretching - try hold stretch minimum 30 seconds

  • Change to supportive footwear

As pain allows you can start strengthening your calf and muscles in the sole of the foot. Good exercises include

  • Double leg calf raise with rolled towel between ankles. May start sitting and progress to standing - start with 3 sets of 10-15 CONTROLLED repetitions

It is also important to start strengthening the muscles in and around your hip and this will contribute to helping you develop good foot posture. Some good exercises to begin with are

  • Clam

  • Bridge

It is important with these exercises you feel the tiny muscle behind your hip and big glutes muscles working, respectively. Start by completing 3 sets of 10-15.

Last, it is important to address your jumping and landing technique - if sport was a contributing factor leading to plantar fasciitis. This can be achieved by addressing strength deficits, improving dynamic balance and control and working in collaboration with a physiotherapist.

Plantar Fasciitis is something we see a lot of in clinic and is something that with the right advice and direction can be easily reversed and treated, sending you back to good health.

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