Heel pain, most commonly plantar fasciitis, affects up to 10% of the population leading to significant health expenditures each year. After 40 years of practice, I remain committed to using old-school and newer technologies to help my patient continue to run, walk, ski, and hike here in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
My goal is to ensure you heal faster, have less downtime from the things you love to do, and have more lasting relief.
What is plantar fasciitis?
We each have a thick band of tissue that runs from our toes and inserts into our heels. That tissue is your plantar fascia. When that tissue becomes overstressed it becomes inflamed and causes pain. The longer this process continues the more pain and inflammation and the longer it takes to relieve symptoms.
That’s why it’s critical to get on top of your heel pain as quickly as possible. While it’s important to make an appointment with a podiatrist you trust, there are also many things you can do at home to get treatment started.
Assessing Your Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis
But before we discuss treatment at home, it’s important to understand the most important factors contributing to your heel pain. You can start by answering the following questions.
- Are you overweight?
- Do you stand for long periods at work?
- Are you a runner or another type of athlete and if so how much time a week do you spend engaged in your sport?
- What is your foot type? Do you have flat feet or high arches?
- What type of shoes do you wear? Are they supportive, stable, fairly new, and appropriate for your sport or not?
- Do you go barefoot at home?
If you answered yes to these questions and your shoes are old, unstable, or inappropriate for your sport, you are at higher risk for developing plantar fasciitis.
If you’re currently experiencing heel pain, it’s important to consider how long you’ve been in pain, your pain level on a scale of 1-10, and when you experience the pain. These will help guide your podiatrist when you finally get into the office.
Treating Heel Pain At Home
As I mentioned, there’s a lot you can do at home to get started in relieving your heel pain.
If you have heel pain, this is not the time to start a new home project that requires a lot of time on your feet. Rest is vital to help you start to heal. And yes, that also means laying off your physical activities as well.
Avoid Going Barefoot
Many people in the Seattle area have a house rule of no shoes at home. With plantar fasciitis going barefoot is a mistake. Every time you take a step with this condition, you re-adding insult to injury. We recommend wearing the Vionic Wave Sandal at home to ensure you have good support.
Icing and Massage
Icing can help reduce inflammation and pain. Start by icing 10 minutes a day. You can use a Theraband foot roller to massage the bottom of your foot or you can put a water bottle in the freezer.
Take Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Ask your doctor if you can start on anti-inflammatory medication to help bring down your pain.
Stretch Your Calf Muscles
One of the keys to reducing your pain is reducing the pull on your plantar fascia. While you can do static stretches before you get out of bed in the morning by wrapping a towel around the bottom of your foot, I also recommend using an Achilles splint during the day. Please see the videos below to learn more about doing these stretches.
Purchase New Shoes
If your shoes are old, worn-out, unstable, or inappropriate for your sport, you need to buy new shoes. When you shop for shoes it’s extremely important to find shoes that don’t bend in the middle, are hard to wring out like a rag, and have a firm heel counter. Learn more below.
Heel pain can prevent you from enjoying your daily life or your outdoor activities.Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to start yourself on a healing path. Click here to learn more about how plantar fasciitis is treated.