At best, plantar fasciitis pain can feel like a bruise in the heel or arch of your foot, but more often, it's a stabbing pain that is sheer agony. If you have it, you want to know two things: How long does plantar fasciitis last and how to heal it quickly. While 6 months might seem like forever, that's the time it takes to cure most cases of plantar fasciitis with non-invasive remedies.
THE BASICS ---
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that supports the arch of your foot. The pain is usually worse in the morning and it can keep you sidelined from doing the activities you love.
If you have excruciating pain from plantar fasciitis, you want to know how to make it go away, fast. While ice, stretching and pain relievers can help minimize the pain, you have to treat the root cause to stop plantar fasciitis and keep it from coming back.
Firm arch support is the most effective plantar fasciitis treatment. Soft foam insoles don't provide the structure needed to support the plantar fascia so it can heal. The best plantar fasciitis insoles match the contour of your arch.
We recommend Tread Labs Pace Insoles for plantar fasciitis. Pace insoles are available in four arch heights so you can find one that fits your foot perfectly.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that supports the arch of your foot. When you have plantar fasciitis, the most common symptom is pain and stiffness on the bottom of your heel (not in your arch). Pain can:
Be dull or sharp
Feel like a deep ache or give off a burning sensation
Develop slowly over time
Or come on suddenly, particularly after intense activities
Pain is often notably worse in the morning, decreasing as the day continues and your foot and arch limber up. However, you will also feel pain:
After prolonged periods of standing or sitting
When going up stairs
After intense activities like walking, running, or jumping
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
It is common to get plantar fasciitis if you have certain conditions or engage in certain sports or recreational activities. Risk factors can be anatomical, biomechanical or environmental. They include:
If you are already in pain from plantar fasciitis symptoms, you'll want to use a 3-step approach to heal plantar fasciitis quickly:
Stretch and strengthen the ankle, foot, and calf muscles.
Protect the plantar fascia from further trauma.
Step 1: Reduce Inflammation
The inflammation and pain caused by plantar fasciitis can be excruciating. To provide short-term relief from the pain, podiatrists and orthopedists recommend the following remedies:
Non-steroidal pain relievers
You can easily apply these plantar fasciitis treatments at home.
Ice Your Foot
Ice your foot several times a day for 15 minutes each time; here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
Fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. When ready, peel off the top part of the paper and rub the cup along the arch and heel.
Rest the arch and heel on an ice pack.
Bags of frozen vegetables such as peas or corn work well as they contour to the heel and arch.
You can also place your foot in contrast baths – going back and forth between hot and cold water, but always ending with cold water as heat can aggravate the pain. Changes in temperature change blood movement, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling. It can also help improve overall range of motion in the area.
Non-Steroidal Pain Relievers (NSAIDS)
Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as:
Ibuprofen (Advil) - Reduces inflammation and pain. Acts quickly and doesn't stay in the body too long.
Naproxen (Aleve) - Also reduces inflammation and pain. Is a longer-acting drug than ibuprofen, meaning you don't have to take as many for the same results.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) - Not the best choice for treating plantar fasciitis as it doesn't relieve inflammation.
This splint stretches your calf muscles and maintains your foot (and plantar fascia) in an extended position with your toes pointed up while you sleep.
Keeping your foot in this position overnight applies an extended gentle stretch to the plantar fasciaand Achilles tendon (see Step 2: Stretch and Strengthen below). It also maintains the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles at their functional lengths. Normally, your toes curl and your foot relaxes while you sleep, shortening the plantar fascia. When you wake up, your foot automatically straightens out, causing the plantar fascia to stretch suddenly, bringing on pain. By keeping the foot straight overnight, the splint decreases the stress that sudden movement places on the plantar fascia.
In the beginning, it is helpful to wear a night splint every night for a couple of months. As your symptoms go away, gradually reduce the time you wear the splint.
Rub your plantar fascia over a golf ball to massage it and release tension. This will also help stretch the fascia (see Step 2: Stretch and Strengthen below). Deep tissue massage is also helpful. This will release the fascia without causing more inflammation.
Rest Your Foot
No one wants to hear it, but for full recovery, you'll probably have to avoid the activities that are aggravating your pain. Lay off running for now. Try swimming or other non-impact exercises while you recover.
Think of the plantar fascia as a big rubber band that stretches from the heel to the toe, supporting the arch of your foot. Both it – and the other rubber bands it connects to – need to be flexible to avoid snapping.
Stretching will help loosen the fascia, tendons, and muscles that all contribute to plantar fasciitis. We recommend stretching 2 to 4 times per day. Use these exercises to help alleviate plantar fascia pain:
Fascia stretch – From a seated position, stretch the unaffected leg straight out in front of you. Bend the other leg and put your foot against the inside of your extended knee. Pull your toes back towards your shin bone for 10 to 15 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your arch. Repeat on the other side. If you are flexible enough, stretch both legs straight out in front of you with your heels on the floor. With your toes pointing straight up, grab the toes and pull them back towards the shin bones.
Achilles tendon stretch – Stand on a step. Relax your calf muscles, and slowly let your heels down over the edge of the step for 10 to 15 seconds. You should feel the stretch along the Achilles tendon.
Calf muscle stretch – Stand with one foot about 12 inches in front of the other. Point the toes of the back foot towards the heel of the front and lean towards a wall. Keep your back leg straight and bend your front one, keeping both heels firmly planted on the floor. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
As Joy Rowland, DPM, says: “Stretching is a big part of treatment for plantar fasciitis. We have to allow that ligament to stretch rather than pull.”
Step 3: Protect Your Plantar Fascia For Long-Term Comfort
Because biomechanical irregularities like flat feet, high arches, and overpronation can lead to plantar fasciitis, correcting these foot problems and supporting the arch are key to avoiding pain.
Strong arch support is critical to both treatment and prevention of plantar fasciitis. Scientific studies have found that insoles – especially with firm support – reduce pain levels related to plantar fasciitis symptoms.
Treat – Insoles with strong arch support will reduce the weight bearing load of the in the plantar fascia, allowing it to heal.
Prevent – Insoles that properly support the arch lengthwise prevent overpronation, a cause of plantar fasciitis.
Not all insoles are made the same. While your foot may be screaming for comfort, what it really needs is structural support. Soft, cushioned insoles will provide temporary relief. But they won't correct the overpronation that leads to plantar fasciitis.
How Long Does Plantar Fasciitis Last?
More than 95% of people with plantar fasciitis are able to recover within 6 months of onset with the use of home treatments. While half a year may seem like a long time, it's nothing compared to the recovery time of surgery.
If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis symptoms and they don't go away after several weeks of home remedies, it is time to get an accurate diagnosis from a podiatrist or orthopedist, and in some cases, a physical therapist.
When visiting your doctor, you can expect they will conduct a thorough physical exam, maybe take an X-Ray (looking for bone spurs), and likely give you treatment options similar to what we have outlined above. They might prescribe an orthotic or ask to you purchase insoles.
Sometimes, however, plantar fasciitis will not go away with home remedies. More aggressive measures such as steroid injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), and even surgery are considered if you have been suffering from plantar fasciitis for more than 6-12 months and none of the normal interventions have improved symptoms.
How Can I Prevent Plantar Fasciitis?
Preventing plantar fasciitis comes down to taking good care of your feet, maintaining flexibility, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Once your symptoms go away, you can go back to your normal lifestyle. Here are some tips to prevent plantar fasciitis:
Take care of your feet - Buy well-fitting shoes with plenty of support and stability. Supplement their existing arch support with arch support insoles or custom orthotics.
Maintain flexibility - Even if you're not an athlete, you should stretch your calves and Achilles tendon daily.
Maintain a healthy weight - If weight was a factor in the development of plantar fasciitis, this is extra important.
Exercise regularly -Make sure you find time in your busy schedule to exercise. But remember, always start a new plan gradually and wear correct gear. If you tend to only run, try mixing-up your workout routine. Add a couple days of swimming or biking to offset the wear and tear your feet experience while hitting the pavement.
Plantar fasciitis can be painful – and annoying – but with the proper treatment and the implementation of preventative measures, you won't have to experience it again.
How have you healed your plantar fasciitis? Leave a comment below.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.