If you have heel pain in the morning or after sitting a long time, then you probably have plantar fasciitis and/or heel spurs. Plantar fasciitis is the result of bone or nerve irritation from too much tension, inflammation, or scar tissue in the fascia -- the ligament on the bottom of the foot. The pain often increases with more walking and with standing. The pain is usually where the fascia attaches to the heel, but it can be felt over the entire bottom area of the foot.
A heel spur is a growth of bone from the heel that is often associated with plantar fasciitis pain.
Plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are debilitating conditions for a walker, since walking through the pain can simply lead to more pain and months of recovery. Walkers don't necessarily get plantar fasciitis more often than the general population. It can be caused by bad shoes, being overweight, or putting an abnormal load on your feet.
Plantar fasciitis might last for just a few weeks, or it can become chronic.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatment
1. Rest: The foot needs time to heal without further irritation. You should walk and run less once you are feeling plantar fasciitis pain.
2. Icing: Cold therapy is good for calming inflammation. Put a cold pack on your foot after walking. Treat with cold for 15 minutes. Ice Bottle Massage for Plantar Fasciitis
3. Self-Massage: This will help restore foot flexibility and gently mobilize the fascia. Before you get out of bed in the morning, or after sitting for a long period, use long massage strokes from the ball of the foot to the heel of the foot.
- 4. Night Splint: When you sleep, your foot relaxes in a way that lets the plantar fascia tighten up. A night splint holds your foot in teh position it would be in when you stand, so the plantar fascia remains stretched out. Then stepping out of bed in the morning doesn't cause a sudden stretching of the fascia which might re-injure it. A study found that use of the night splint gives you a significantly shorter recovery time than just using stretching.
Plantar Fasciitis StretchesStretches are used once you have gotten over the initial pain and swelling, not while you are still hurting. Do these static stretches three times a day and keep doing them, which might help prevent recurrence of plantar fasciitis and heel spur.
Plantar Fascia Stretching Sequence
More from our Orthopedic Medicine Guide's Plantar Fasciitis Information
Lance D. Barry, DPM et al. "A Retrospective Study of Standing Gastrocnemius-Soleus Stretching versus Night Splinting in the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis," The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, Volume 41, Number 4, July/August 2002.