Plantar fasciitis, also known as jogger’s heel, is a common disorder that causes acute pain in the heel and the sole of the foot.
According to a report by the Palo Alto Medical Association, heel pain affects more than half of Americans, and the most common cause is plantar fasciitis.
It occurs due to inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. Repetitive stretching and tearing can cause the plantar fascia to become irritated or inflamed. Tight calf muscles also contribute to the problem as they limit your ability to flex your ankles.
Plantar fasciitis can affect both men and women and is very common in runners and hikers. However, it most often affects active men between ages 40 to 70.
Apart from age, other factors that may increase your risk of developing plantar fasciitis include regularly indulging in activities that put a lot of stress on your heels, faulty foot mechanics, obesity, jobs that keep you on your feet for long hours and wearing shoes with poor arch support or soft soles.
Common signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis are heel pain, inflammation, pain in the foot arch, difficulty walking or standing, limping, acute pain after brief weight-bearing activities and stiffness in the heel after long periods of inactivity.
Symptoms are often worst in the morning and after periods of sitting. In addition, it usually affects just one foot, but can be both at times.
Plantar fasciitis can have a huge impact on your day-to-day activities. You can reduce the symptoms and discomfort with easy-to-follow home remedies and simple lifestyle modifications.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for plantar fasciitis.
1. Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises that involve your feet and lower leg muscles are one of the best ways to control heel pain due to plantar fasciitis. They will also help reduce inflammation in the calves and other leg muscles so you can move around comfortably.
- Before you get out of bed in the morning, stretch your feet, lower leg muscles, calf muscles and toes. While sitting up in bed, hold onto your flexed feet and gently pull them toward you for 30 seconds, release and repeat 1 or 2 more times. This will help minimize pain in the morning.
- Stand at arm’s length from a wall with your unaffected leg slightly bent at the knee and the affected foot behind you. Slowly and gently, press your hips forward while keeping both the heels flat on the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise in 2 sets of 10 repetitions, several times a week.
- Roll a frozen water bottle or a golf ball under the arch of your foot, starting from the front and working your way back. Apply a little pressure. Do this for a couple of minutes, once daily.
For more exercises, consult a doctor or a physical trainer.
Massaging your foot will provide relief from the pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis. Regular massaging stimulates blood flow in and around the affected area and helps release tension in the plantar fascia.
- Using your fingers, gently massage the lower part of your foot and heel with some warm olive, coconut or sesame oil for 10 minutes. Do this a couple of times daily, especially before going to bed.
- You can even use an electric massager to reduce pain in your heel due to plantar fasciitis.
3. Cold Compress
Using a cold compress can help reduce inflammation and ease pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
- Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel. You can also freeze a round plastic bottle filled with water.
- Place it over the area of pain for a few minutes. If using a frozen bottle, roll it over the aching area for about 5 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day or after activity.
Note: Do not rub ice directly on your heel.
4. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate crystals) can help soothe your plantar fascia and relieve pain and inflammation. Moreover, it aids in healing the muscles and connective tissues.
- Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a small tub of warm water.
- Soak your foot in this water for 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day. You can also massage the affected area to alleviate pressure.
- Do this a few times a week.
Curcumin, a component in turmeric, works as a potent painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent. A study published in a 2007 issue of the American Journal of Physiology found that curcumin can reduce both acute and chronic inflammation.
- Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to a cup of milk. Heat it over a low flame. Add a little honey and drink it daily before going to bed.
- Alternatively, take curcumin supplements, 400 to 600 milligrams 2 times a day. Consult a doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can help combat plantar fasciitis.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of grated ginger in 1 cup of water. Boil it for a few minutes, turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and drink it while it is still hot. Drink 2 to 3 cups of this tea daily.
- Also, include ginger in your daily cooking.
- Alternatively, you can take a supplement, but only after consulting your doctor.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another effective home remedy for plantar fasciitis. Its medicinal properties help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Add 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of raw honey to a glass of warm water. Drink it a couple of times daily.
- Another option is to mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a small tub filled with warm water. Soak your feet in the tub for 5 to 10 minutes, twice daily.
8. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural pain reliever. It can also help relieve muscle stiffness due to plantar fasciitis.
- Add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to ½ bucket of hot water. Soak your feet in it for 10 minutes. Follow this remedy a few times daily.
- Alternatively, use over-the-counter creams that contain capsaicin. Rub a little bit of the cream on the bottom of your foot a few times daily or as diected by your doctor.
Note: Do not use cayenne pepper or capsaicin cream on inflamed or broken skin.
9. Fish Oil
Fish oil is rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are helpful in reducing pain and inflammation due to plantar fasciitis. In fact, fish oil helps regulate the inflammatory process and decrease the intensity of pain and muscle stiffness.
- According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one can take up to 3 grams of fish oil (with at least 30% EPA/DHA) twice daily.
- Also, eat cold-water fish like tuna and salmon.
Note: Consult a doctor before taking fish oil supplements, especially if you take blood-thinning or diabetes medication.
10. Dietary Changes
To reduce pain and inflammation, it is important to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. It can promote the healing process and decrease inflammation.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are extra-virgin olive oil, ginger, garlic, tart cherries, salmon, walnuts, almonds, berries of all types and sweet potatoes.
Along with anti-inflammatory foods, eat foods high in vitamins C and A, zinc and calcium. In addition, eat foods high in amino acids that help strengthen connective tissues. Also, eat antioxidant foods to prevent the buildup of free radicals.
- Limit the use of high-heel footwear and buy shoes that offer adequate arch support for your feet.
- Use lightweight arch support pads that you can wear around your foot for additional pain relief.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on your feet.
- When feeling pain, give your feet much-needed rest.
- Do not exercise on hard surfaces like concrete when you are experiencing pain.
- Do not use heating pads if there is pain as it will worsen the symptoms.
- Try wearing night splints while you sleep to prevent stiffness.
- Wear a walking cast on your calf to speedup the recovery time.
- Avoid going barefoot.Wear shoes even while walking around your house.
- Drink more water to improve metabolic processes in the body and facilitate cellular repair.
- Maintain a healthy weight to minimize stress on your plantar fascia.
- Try magnetic therapy and acupuncture to ease plantar fasciitis pain.
If the problem persists, consult a doctor who specializes in podiatry.