This Plantar fasciitis rehabilitation program will take you through the steps needed to cure Plantar fasciitis. Our simple two-strand solution includes treatment, exercises, taping, and massage.
The aims of plantar fasciitis treatment are:
- To decrease pain and inflammation
- Identify and correct possible causes
- Improve flexibility
- Gradually increase strength and returning to full fitness.
Phase 1 treatment
The first phase emphasizes rest and aims to reduce initial pain and inflammation to the point where you can walk pain-free in the mornings.
- Rest from activities that cause pain.
- Stay off your feet as much as you can and use crutches if necessary.
No single treatment method is likely to be successful on its own, however, a combination of approaches can be effective.
- Wear comfortable trainers with good cushioning.
- Avoid hard flat soles or high heels.
- Avoid walking in bare feet, especially on hard surfaces. This will increase the strain on the plantar fascia tissue, under your foot.
- Apply cold therapy.
- Ice massage or application of a cold pack for 10 minutes every hour for the first day.
- Reduce to 3-5 times a day as symptoms ease.
- Tape your foot to protect and support the fascia until you can walk pain-free.
- If plantar fasciitis taping is effective then it is likely that orthotics will also be effective.
- They will help correct poor foot biomechanics and help to prevent your injury returning.
- A doctor may prescribe NSAID’s (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) e.g. ibuprofen in the early stages.
- Always check with a doctor before taking any medication.
- Do not take Ibuprofen if you have asthma.
If your feet roll in or overpronate then this can contribute to the strain on your foot.
- This is because overpronation tends to flatten the arch, overstretching the plantar fascia.
- As a result damage to the collagen fibers within the fascia occurs.
- This can be corrected by orthotic inserts, preferably fitted by a sports injury professional or podiatrist. However, off the shelf shoe inserts are often appropriate.
- The inserts should be worn at all times. Not just when training.
Phase 1 exercises
- Walking or any other activity which causes pain either during, after or the following day.
- If pain allows, gentle stretching exercises for the plantar fascia should begin.
- In addition, stretching the calf muscles at the back of your lower leg is also important.
- Continue stretching daily throughout this rehabilitation phase as well as long after your injury has healed.
- Wear a plantar fasciitis night splint.
- This is an effective treatment option which helps prevent your plantar fascia and calf muscles tightening up overnight. As a result, the initial pain felt first thing in the morning is reduced.
- Initially, a night splint can feel uncomfortable. Try to wear it as long as is comfortable, overnight if possible.
- If you can only manage 1 hour then gradually increase over time. If it is painful then remove it.
- Do not give up, once you can wear it for a number of hours overnight, you are well on your way to being cured.
- Try to maintain fitness by swimming or cycling.
- Perhaps use the opportunity to work on upper body strength for a while or some other aspect of training.
- It is important to try to maintain some kind of training routine for mental health reasons.
You are ready to move onto phase two when you can walk pain-free in the mornings.
Phase 2 treatment
The second phase of plantar fasciitis treatment aims to get you back to full fitness once the initial pain and inflammation has gone.
- Continue with to apply ice, or a cold pack 2 – 3 times a day.
- Make sure you apply cold after activity such as walking, even if you do not think you are in pain. Try to prevent inflammation and pain before it develops.
- Deep tissue sports massage techniques for the plantar fascia can be applied.
- This will help to further stretch and improve the elasticity of your plantar fascia.
- Initially, massage may be light on a daily basis but deeper techniques can be used as the condition improves.
- Deeper techniques may require a days recovery in between sessions.
- If you are unable to see a massage therapist regularly then roll the foot over a ball or rolling pin or similar to help stretch and apply myofascial release.
- Do this exercise for 10 minutes per day.
- Continue with this until foot fitness has been regained.
- If the pain becomes worse then drop back to phase 1.
Phase 2 exercises
- Stretching should be done daily if pain allows.
- Read more on specific stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis.
- Aim to wear the night splint for at least 5 hours, longer if possible.
- When you have gone at least a week with no pain then you can begin to slowly start to increase the loads on the foot.
- Start off by walking and increase the distance and speed you walk until you can walk at a fast pace for at least 30 minutes with no pain.
- This should be a gradual process. If you feel pain at any time then go back a step.
You are ready to move on when you can walk 30 minutes without any pain during, after or the following day.
Phase 3 – Returning to full fitness
- Ensure you have the correct shoes for your running style or sport.
- After every training session apply ice to the foot for about ten minutes.
- Ensure you stretch properly before each training session and after.
- Hold stretches for about 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
Below is an example of a gradual return to running program. Begin each training session with a 5-minute walk followed by a stretch.
- Day 1 – walk 3 mins, jog 1 min, repeat 4 times
- Day 2 – rest
- Day 3 – walk 3 mins, jog 2 mins, repeat 4 times
- Day 4 – rest
- Day 5 – walk 2 mins, jog 3 mins, repeat 4 times
- Day 6 – rest
- Day 7 – walk 2 mins, jog 4 mins, repeat 4 times
Continue this until you are confident enough to return to full training.