Plantar Fasciitis – The Causes, Symptoms And Remedies

Fasciitis

Woke up in the morning and suddenly felt a sharp pain under your heel after taking a few steps? Was the pain stabbing? Was it a first time pain or a repetitive one?

You could be suffering from inflammation of the ligament – the plantar fascia ligament (which gets exposed to tremendous wear and tear in your daily life).

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common orthopaedic complaints. Why walking, even climbing stairs can be very difficult due to heel stiffness.

But what causes it?

Read on.

Did you know?

Plantar Fasciitis is a painful condition of the foot which affects nearly 2 million people per year. So, you better not neglect!

Causes

Find out which are the causes that have affected you or can be your ‘risk factors’ of plantar fasciitis:

  • Obesity: You are at a greater risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you’re obese or overweight. This is due to the increased pressure on your plantar fascia ligaments (when you have sudden weight gain).
  •  Long-distance runner: Surely, it’s a reason to feel privileged on being a long-distance runner. But you are more likely to develop plantar fascia problems.
  •  Pregnancy: Women during ‘late’ pregnancy are likely to experience bouts of plantar fasciitis.
  •  Active job: If you are in a profession which keeps you on your toes more, then you are at risk from plantar fasciitis.
  • Age factor: Those of you who are active men and women between 40 and 70 yrs., particularly women, are at the highest risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
  • Foot problems: Suffering from any of these foot problems – high arches, or flat feet, or Achilles tendons (wherein the tendons attach the calf muscles to your heels)? You can suffer from plantar fascia pain.
  • Wrong Footwear: Wearing wrong shoes that have soft soles and poor arch support can lead to plantar fasciitis.

Symptoms

Some of the main symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include:

  • Foot pain
  • Heel pain
  • Tenderness and
  • Stiffness
  • Easy to guess and identify the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, right? No worries. There are natural remedies to help get rid of them.

10 home remedies for plantar fasciitis:

1. Cold Compress

What you need: Few ice cubes, thin towel

How to do:

  1. Put the ice cubes in a thin towel
  1. Place the towel over the area of pain

How it works: A cold compress helps in reducing swelling and inflammation and eases pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

How frequent to use: Repeat the ice application over the aching area in heels few times a day

Tip: Avoid rubbing the ice directly on your heel.

Fasciitis For Cold Compress

2. Epsom Salt

What you need: 2-3 tbsp Epsom salt, small tub of warm water

How to do:

  1. Put Epsom salt in the mentioned qty in a tub containing warm water
  1. Now put your aching foot in this water for about 10-15 minutes

How it works: Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate crystals which help in soothing your plantar fascia. Thereby, bringing you relief from pain and inflammation.

How frequent to use: Do the Epsom salt treatment twice a day and few times a week for best results

Tip: You can also massage the affected area to lessen or ease the pressure on it.

3. Turmeric

What you need: 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 cup of milk

How to do:

  1. To a cup of milk, add turmeric powder.
  1. Heat it over low flame
  1. Add a little bit of honey
  1. Drink it before going to sleep

How it works: Turmeric has curcumin – a component which works as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent.

Tip: You can also take curcumin supplements, 400 to 600 mg twice a day (after consulting your doctor).

4. Ginger

What you need: 1 tbsp ginger (preferably grated), water

How to do:

  1. In 1 cup water, mix 1 tbsp ginger and then boil it.
  1. Turn off the heat and steep it for few minutes
  1. Strain and drink it while it is hot

How it works: Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily to get the benefit

Tip: Include ginger in your cooking recipes. It works.

Ginger

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

What you need: 1 tbsp of ACV (raw and unfiltered), 1 tsp honey, warm water

How to do:

  1. Add all the ingredients – ACV and honey (in the mentioned qty) in warm water

How it works: The medicinal properties of ACV come of use in reducing pain and inflammation in the heels.

How frequent to use: Drink the prepared liquid couple of times on a daily basis

Tip: You can also mix 2 tbsp ACV in a small tub containing warm water, and then dip your aching feet in this tub for 5 to 10 min. twice daily

6. Cayenne Pepper

What you need: 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder, and half a bucket containing hot water

How to do:

  1. Add cayenne pepper powder in the bucket of hot water
  1. Soak your feet in it for 5 to 10 min

How it works: Cayenne pepper contains a natural pain-reliever called capsaicin. Most importantly, it brings relief from muscle stiffness caused by plantar fasciitis.

Tip: There are OTC creams which contain capsaicin, which can also be used. Just rub a bit of the cream on the bottom of your foot. Do it few times daily. But yes, do not apply cayenne pepper or capsaicin cream on burnt or broken skin.

cayenne pepper

7. Fish Oil

What you need: Fish oil tablets or raw fish (tuna and salmon)

How it works: Fish oil is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are helpful in reducing pain and inflammation caused due to plantar fasciitis.

How frequent to use: As per U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you can take up to 3 gms. of fish oil (with at least 30% EPA/DHA) twice daily.

Tip: You can also eat recipes having cooked cold-water fish like tuna and salmon. Before taking fish oil supplements, do consult your doc (especially if you are on blood-thinning or diabetes medication).

8. Cabbage

What you need: Cabbage leaf, 1 tsp honey

How to do:

  1. Put 1 tsp of honey on a cabbage leaf
  1. Now apply it on your foot
  1. Let it stay overnight
  1. Next morning, rinse it off with warm water.

How it works: Cabbage leaf is not just meant for cooking and salad purpose, but also to bring relief from pain in the feet and heels. It has a pigment called anthocyanin which may usher relief from joint pain and inflammation/swelling.

How frequent to use: Repeat this home remedy thrice. After the 3rd day, you will find the pain will decrease.

9. Mustard Oil

What you need: 1 tsp mustard oil

How to do:

  1.  Warm 1 tsp of mustard oil for few seconds
  1.  Now massage it into the foot sole and heel (in circular motion)

How it works: The warm mustard oil massage relaxes the muscles of your feet and brings blood flow to the area. Moreover, mustard oil has magnesium which is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

How frequent to use: Once or twice a day. The frequency can vary depending on the intensity of your plantar fasciitis pain.

10. Aloe Vera

What you need: Aloe Vera Juice

How to do:

  1. Cut a stem of Aloe Vera plant
  1. Extract its gel
  1. Transfer the gel to a pan and heat it slightly
  1. Add 5 gm of turmeric to the gel and mix it well
  1.  Now turn off the heat
  1. Use this hot mixture by applying it on the arch, heel, and ankle
  1.  Let it seep down into the foot skin
  1. Bind your foot with a cotton strip.

How it works: Aloe Vera is a cure-all remedy which extends its benefits to the swollen heels. It has mucopolysaccharides (containing anti-inflammatory properties) which alleviate pain from plantar fascia and lessen the inflammation.

How frequent to use: Repeat this remedy twice a day in order to get best results

The basket of remedies for plantar fasciitis is huge. The next section gives you tips on the exercises you can do at home to get relief.

Exercises

Now for DIY time…

Here are a few exercises which will help reduce the painful effect of plantar fasciitis:

1. Stretch

How to do:

  1. Stand facing a wall.
  1. Get your right foot behind your left one.
  1. Now bend your left leg forward, slowly and gently.
  1. See to it that your right knee is kept straight and your right heel on the ground.
  1. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
  1. Reverse the position of your legs, and repeat.

How it works: Stretching routine can keep you free of heel pain. And it doesn’t take much time. All it needs is a bit of practice.

Stretch

2. Picking Up Marbles With Your Toes

How to do:

  1. Put few colored marbles on the floor next to a cup.
  1. Using your toes, try to lift the marbles up from the floor
  1. Now put the marbles in the cup.

How it works: This is a foot strengthening exercise which helps treat plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.

Tip: Best to do marble-picking exercise with your toes 3 times a week for 5-10 minutes. The moment your feet start to get stronger, increase the amount of time and frequency of this ‘fun’ exercise.

Picking Up Marbles With Your Toes

3. Night splint

How to do:

  1. Apply the device (a type of brace) with the knee bent.
  1. Attach the middle strap of the brace over the ankle in order to hold the heel.
  1. Then attach other straps over the foot and around shin and adjust for comfort.
  1. Adjust Velcro straps on each side to set how far foot can bend up towards the knee.

How it works: Night Splint improves flexibility of ‘calf muscle’. This is important for plantar fasciitis (heel spurs), Achilles Tendinitis, and other foot and ankle conditions and can help prevent morning pain and stiffness.

Best time to do: During night (which means you need to sleep on your side)

Night splint

4. Ball rolling

How to do:

  1. Roll the golf ball under the foot (Start it from the front and work your way back)
  1.  Now apply good pressure on each spot of the foot for 15 seconds, before you move on to the next area.
  1. Roll the ball over the entire foot, back and forth.

How it works: Rolling a ball (small one) with the foot sole can be beneficial in treating heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. This is a massage technique which will ease out the pain.

Ball Rolling

5. Belt Stretch (also called the TOWEL STRETCH)

How to do:

  1. Take a wide belt (or strap) and hold one end in each hand.
  1.  Put the center part of the belt over the ball of the foot
  1.  Keeping your knee straight, pull your ankle back towards you (using the belt) and the muscle on the front of your leg.
  1. Now consider reverse-stretching your arch.
  1. Pull back and then hold for 10 seconds
  1. Relax and repeat for 5-10 minutes

How it works: Belt stretches is actually a quick-n-easy plantar fasciitis exercise which can be done and finished in less than 2 minutes.

Best time to do: Do the belt-stretch multiple times a day (ideally first thing in the morning) and you will notice the difference it brings to your plantar fascia.

Tip: In addition to belt stretch, you can go in for ‘toe’ stretches, ‘calf’ stretches, and ‘towel stretches’ (mentioned above). They all are equally useful in treating plantar fasciitis.

Belt Stretch

6. Heel Stretch (meaning RAISE YOUR HEELS)

How to do:

  1. Stand with your feet placed flat on the floor
  1. If you need balance, then hold onto a chair or the wall
  1. Now PUSH UP meaning lift your heels off the floor (it’s like standing on your toes)
  1. Hold this pose for 3-5 sec
  1. Now slowly lower down your heels
  1. Repeat it 10 times and do 3 sets of it

How it works: This exercise strengthens the calf muscles putting your foot movement back to track.

Tip: Distribute your weight equally between both your feet. If that is tough to do, let your better foot do more of the heel stretch. Then gradually, start getting the painful foot share the load.

7. Incline Board Stretch (meaning STAND ON THE BOARD)

How to do:

  1. First of all, take a slant board
  1. Put it on the floor about 2 feet from the wall.
  1. Place the ball of your foot on the slant board
  1. Keeping your knee in ‘straight’ position, lean towards the wall keeping your hips and legs in a straight line
  1. Lean in and hold for 5 seconds
  1. Now do this 10 to 20 times
  1. Relax and repeat the exercise for 10 minutes
  1. Do this with the knee slightly flexed for the same amount of time

How it works: What’s a slant board? A small platform set at an angle, which is useful for stretching the calves. This in turn relieves you of tension (not mental but muscular) that you get after running or exercising.

Yoga

Treating Heel Pain through Yoga? Is it possible and achievable? Yes!

There are many poses of yoga which are suitable for plantar fasciitis patients.

Time to check them out:

Toes Pose

How to do:

  1. Sit on ground in a kneeling position
  1. Now slowly lift up on your toes, with your knees still anchored in front of you on the ground.
  1. Allow your weight to settle back onto your heels
  1. Hold on to this pose for 2-3 minutes.

How it works: Also called ‘Yin Yoga’, this pose targets the fascia of the body helping it stretch, strengthen, and elongate it.

Tip: Breathe deeply and calmly throughout this pose.

Toes Pose

Garland Pose (or the Squat pose)

How to do:

  1. Squat on the floor with your heels on the ground and your feet close together and your thighs apart
  1.  As you exhale (breathe out), lean forward in such a way that your torso fits between your thighs
  1. Bring your hands closer and together as you press your elbows against your inner knees.
  1. Stay in this position for about 30 sec, then slowly release.

How it works: The job of ‘Garland pose’ is to stretch the ankles and calves. But why? To increase the flexibility and strength in vital muscles that support your arch.

Tip: People who are OVERWEIGHT should practice the Garland pose.

Garland Pose

Prancing Feet Pose

How to do:

  1. Get into a basic standing position.
  1. Now, lift one heel off the ground and roll onto your toes.
  1. Put that foot back on the ground and repeat the motion with the opposite foot.
  1. Keep doing alternating sides in a prancing motion.

How it works: Want to build strength and flexibility in your fascia and toes? Prancing Feet is the pose.

Tip: You feel off-balance at any point of time while doing this yoga pose? Then get a table or chair, hold onto it as you do Prancing Feet Pose.

Dandasana (Staff Pose)

How to do:

  1. Place a yoga strap around the ball of your foot
  1. Now pull on the ends of the strap.
  1. Try to keep your spine ‘tall’ the way you would while doing the regular staff pose.

How it works: When done correctly, the Staff Pose strengthens the major core muscles (all of them), improves posture and back health. As an add-on, it increases strength and stamina.

Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

How to do:

  1. Start this yoga (sounds a tongue-twister? Practice it a bit) by doing Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
  1.  Turn your right leg and foot outward so that your toes point to the top.
  1. Bend your right knee in such a way that your right thigh comes parallel to the floor.
  1. Keep your right knee directly over your right heel.
  1. Now keep your torso part open to the left.
  1. Lower your right arm so that your forearm rests on your right thigh.
  1. At this stage, reach out your left arm up towards the roof. Then, extend your arm over the top of your head.
  1.  Make sure that your left ‘bicep’ should be over your left ear. And your fingertips should be reaching out in the same direction as your front toes.
  1. Move your head in such a way that you look up at the ceiling.
  1. See to it that your front knee does not drop inward
  1. After a minute or so, press firmly through your back foot
  1.  Now come to a standing position (slowly without any jerks). Your arms should be kept at shoulder-height.
  1.  Return to a position of normalcy.

How it works: This yoga pose is an amazing ‘hip opener’ which stretches the side of your body out. The aim of ‘Parsvakonasana’ is to strengthen your thighs, hips, knees and ankle.

Parsvakonasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

How to do:

  1. Place your feet wider than hip-width apart
  1. Squat your hips
  1. Get your elbows inside the knees and your hands in prayer position
  1. Hold for five breaths. Then relax.

How it works: This is the most well-known of yoga poses. In Adho mukha Svanasana: ‘adho’ signifies downward, mukha means face and Svanasana means dog. As the name suggests, you are to come onto your fours, which means that your body turns into a position somewhat like a table. This straightens your knees and elbows. As a result, your calf muscles and the plantar fascia get stretched, which means that your pain is likely to get eased out.

Tip: Practice this yoga pose with regular squats in order to warm up first.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

How to do:

  1. Stand straight in upright position (with feet hip-distance apart)
  1.  If your spine is tight, then bend your legs a bit
  1. Now do a deep-inhale and raise your arms up alongside your ears, with fingers pointing up
  1. Exhale and bend from your hips, getting arms and torso forward in line with your ears.
  1. Hold for 2 or 3 breaths. Then stretch downward.
  1.  Maintain your arms alongside your ears and keep your spine in extended mode.
  1. Rest your hands on your legs.
  1. Hold it in this position for 2 or 3 breaths.

How it works: This is a beginner’s pose which opens up the hamstrings, calves, hips; more importantly it stretches the foot to bring relief from plantar fasciitis.

Uttanasana

Phew! Yoga tips over. Now let’s get on to the food part – the do’s and dont’s you know.

Foods to avoid

Heard of inflammatory foods? They are the ones that increase the amount of pain and inflammation you experience from Plantar Fasciitis. Need of the hour? Cut down on the following inflammatory foods (or limit their quantity):

  1. Sugar: This is the prime culprit that increases irritation and inflammation in body tissues
  1. Processed Grains: Refined food grains (e.g. bleached white flour) can increase inflammation.
  1. Saturated fat and Trans fats: The type of fat found most in processed junk food and processed meats (like hot dogs and pepperoni).
  1. Cakes and Cookies are a big no-no
  1. Deep fried foods can be detrimental for your health.

Foods To Avoid

Foods to have

Some you might like, some you might not. But you need to be flexible! Remember the saying Fruits of labor… ? It can work.

It’s good to know the anti-inflammatory foods which can greatly reduce the effects of Plantar Fasciitis. These are the foods that are high in MSM (found in many fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains), calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Calcium prevents the development of heel spurs, while MSM, magnesium, and vitamin C reduce inflammation.

  1. Spinach: Is high in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and MSM
  1. Pumpkin Seeds: High in calcium and vitamin C
  1. White Beans: High in calcium and magnesium
  1. Oranges: High in calcium, MSM, and vitamin C.
  1. Fresh Blueberries, Strawberries, Papaya, Pineapple, Walnuts and Oatmeal
  1. Increase your consumption of fish (particularly sardines), and reduce the intake of red meat
  1. Snack on nuts, seeds, veggies and fruits (raw form)
  1.  Include olive and canola oil in your cooking
  1. Have a salad meal once a day (comprising of many types of vegetables)

Foods To Have

Prevention & Precautions

  • Stretching can get to be helpful on two fronts – decreasing plantar fasciitis symptoms, and preventing the condition from developing further.
  •  Wear the right shoes, the right ‘type’. But at the same time, avoid wearing high heels (since they would place more stress on the heel). Invest in shoes that have a moderate heel and good arch support which will help prevent plantar fasciitis.
  • Say no to walking ‘barefoot’. The thumb rule is simple – lack of support can become the cause of heel pain.
  • Make sure that the athletic shoes provide you good support and cushion your feet. In fact, athletic or running shoes should be replaced after every 500 miles.
  • Try to walk and run on “flat surfaces” as much as you can.
  •  Avoid walking on hilly terrain, trails and uneven surfaces.
  • In case you are down with heel pain, avoid stairs. Take an elevator instead.
  •  Once in a while, or say after ten days, get a foot massage. It will help overcome plantar fasciitis.
  • Whenever you are walking, running, sitting or standing, make an attempt to relax your lower legs (meaning your ankles and calves).
  • It is good to maintain a healthy weight considering your height, rather than being overweight when short-in-height.

When to Consult Doctor?

Facing numbness or a tingling sensation in your heels or feet? Getting fever along with the plantar fasciitis pain? Go and see a doctor or an experienced health professional in the field immediately without any delay.

Now that you have read symptoms and remedies of plantar fasciitis, time to get started on the preventive track. Why join the 2 million people who suffer from plantar fasciitis when you can relieve yourself from symptoms and bid farewell to this painful foot condition.

Do write in and tell us how you found this blog and how you stand to benefit from it. Likes and comments welcome.

Images Source: Pinterest

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2 Comments

  1. Helen

    July 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    How long does it take for the pain to subside.

    • Deepika Dewan

      July 19, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      The time it take for the pain to go can vary from person to person. The healing time and pain subsiding time depends on the activity level and commitment level of each person.

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