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Plantar fasciitis. How to get relief

Pain, Muscles, exercise | April 3, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Pain, Muscles

Plantar fasciitis. How to get relief

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, affecting up to 10% of the adult population at some point in their lives. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia –the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot which connects the heel bone to the toes, creating an arch.

Get the facts

  • Risk factors include overtraining (a very common condition in runners), older age, obesity or being overweight, foot arch problems (flat feet and high arches), poor footwear and training techniques.
  • It affects people who are middle-aged who are frequently standing or exercise a lot. In fact, 83% of people with heel pain are active working adults between the ages of 25 and 65 years old.
  • Another susceptible group are athletes or runners, soldiers or people who have physically demanding jobs. In runners, the prevalence of plantar fasciitis is 4 to 22%, with higher rates occurring in those who don’t allow adequate rest and recovery between work-outs.
  • About one-third people with plantar fasciitis experience symptoms in both feet.
  • According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than 90% off all people with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of simple exercises and treatment methods that can be done at home.
  • Plantar fasciitis isn’t caused by heel spurs. Even though these conditions can sometimes occur simultaneously, recent research has shown plantar fasciitis can occur without heel spurs.

What are the symptoms

The common symptom is pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. The pain may be dull or sharp and the bottom of the foot may also ache or burn. The pain may develop after a day on your feet or come on suddenly after running or jumping.

This pain is made worse by:

  • Climbing stairs
  • Intense activity
  • Walking, running or jumping
  • After standing or sitting for a while
  • The first few steps taken in the morning

Simple things to do at home

Rest. Once the tissue has become inflamed it is important to discontinue high impact or repetitive activities that have caused the problem in the first place. Continuing these activities will mean the plantar fascia will take longer to heal and it could possibly lead to further damage. It is important to allow several weeks to allow the tissue to heal properly but low impact sports such as swimming can still be performed.

Ice. When your foot is causing you discomfort, try elevating it and applying an icepack for pain relief and to reduce the swelling. This can be done for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day.

Massage. Once the swelling and pain has reduced massage can be used to increase the healing process. Use circular motions with your thumbs on the heel and bottom of your foot for 15 minutes. Try using eucalyptus or lavender oil in olive oil, emu oil or a herbal liniment for tissue damage and inflammation. If someone else is willing to give you a foot rub, even better!

Wear supportive footwear. It’s important to get properly fitted for shoes which provide extra cushion and arch support. Avoiding high heels, sandals, thongs and going bare-foot on hard surfaces is highly recommended. Gel heel cups and orthotics can be inserted into shoes to provide further support. 

Foot soak. Try an epsom salt foot soak. Epsom salt is magnesium - which will relax the foot muscles and give quick relief. Soak for at least 15minutes.

Maintain a healthy BMI. As one of the risk factors for plantar fasciitis is being overweight and obese, maintaining a healthy BMI between 19 and 25 is advised. Extra weight places increased pressure on the heel and can weaken the muscles in your lower legs.

Heel exercises and stretches. Studies have shown that stretching the bottom of the foot along with exercising and strengthening of the legs is the most effective treatment option. Try the following exercises twice a day, include 10 repetitions, holding the stretch for 20 seconds each time.

  • Towel stretches: Place a rolled towel under the ball of your foot and pull on both ends. Move the towel and your foot around to massage the area.
  • Toe stretching: Cross over your affected leg and hold your foot. Pull your toes back towards your shin. 
  • Squat stretches: Lean forward spread your feet apart with one in front of the other. Flex your knees and squat down, keeping your heels on the ground.
  • Achilles tendon stretches: Place your affected leg behind the other with the toes of your back foot pointed towards the heel of your other foot. Lean against a wall and bend your front knee while keeping your back leg straight and your back heel firmly on the ground.

Natural remedies to decrease pain and inflammation

Turmeric— nature’s best anti-inflammatory. Try using a good quality product, as results may vary significantly. Although no studies have been conducted on its effect on plantar fasciitis one study did show that curcumin (the main active constituent in turmeric) can reduce inflammation and offset some of the performance deficits associated with exercise-induced muscle damage.

Load up on omega 3 from quality supplements and/or from the diet. Omega 3 is found in high concentrations in fresh fish, seafood, linseeds, chia seeds and nuts. Extensive research has shown omega 3 is effective in reducing inflammation and this could theoretically extend to reducing pain and recovery time in people suffering from plantar fasciitis.

Magnesium, a mineral needed for proper muscle function. If your muscles and tendons are tight then magnesium could be helpful to stop the muscle contracting and allow it to loosen and relax. Magnesium oil can also be applied directly to the base of the foot and gently massaged in.

Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme naturally found in pineapples is commonly used in treating inflammation and soft tissue injuries and may be beneficial in the management of plantar fasciitis. It can also be combined with quercetain for further anti-inflammatory support.

Why suffer with plantar fasciitis for months or even years. Implementing these simple strategies can significantly speed up the time that you experience the pain and inconvenience of this very common condition.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Leung PC, et al. Selected topical agents used in traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of minor injuries- a review. Front Pharmacol. 2016 Feb 5;7:16

Davis JM, et al. Curcumin effects on inflammation and performance recovery following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Jun;292(6):R2168-73

Roxas M. Plantar fasciitis: diagnosis and therapeutic considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2005 Jun;10(2):83-93

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