RICE Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
Just like rice (the food!) is a staple for many meals, the treatment RICE is a staple conservative treatment for many different kinds of injuries, including plantar fasciitis.
Chances are, you’ve likely heard references to this common treatment standby at a doctor’s office or online. But what is RICE treatment? How can you use the RICE method for foot injuries? And how does RICE fit into a typical treatment plan for plantar fasciitis?
What Is RICE Treatment?
The acronym RICE stands for Rest, Icing, Compression, and Elevation. Each part of the RICE method treats plantar fasciitis in a different way:
- Rest: Resting is a very important part of healing from plantar fasciitis. This injury often develops because of overuse or strain from repeated impact. Take a few days off from vigorous activities such as running and sports, and sit down instead of standing when possible.
- Icing: Icing will help reduce inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. Ice twice a day for 10-15 minutes, and immediately after any kind of exercise. Icing can help numb pain signals and calm inflammation in the injured foot.
- Compression: Compression helps reduce swelling and improve circulation to the injured area. Use compression socks or tape if you notice swelling.
- Elevation: Elevation improves swelling and pain by preventing blood from pooling at the injured area. Rest with your feet raised above your heart to improve circulation and speed up healing.
When to Use RICE
RICE can begin as soon as you notice heel pain, and can be used as often as needed while you heal from your injury. In fact, using RICE regularly as part of your plantar fasciitis treatment plan (more on that in a bit!) can make a big difference in your healing time.
Put simply, try to stay off your feet as much as possible, avoid high-impact activities, and ice regularly while you heal. If you plan on doing a lot of walking or you notice swelling, tape your feet or wear compression socks! Taking care of your feet with the RICE treatment method will give your body a chance to repair your damaged plantar fascia more quickly.
Tips for Using the RICE Method for Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain
If you’re using the RICE method for heel pain or plantar fasciitis, keep the following helpful tips in mind to make the most of this treatment:
Make Icing Easy
A lot of people don’t ice as often as they should because of the mess. Not to mention, it’s uncomfortable to hold an ice bag in place for more than a couple of minutes! Try ice slippers, reusable ice packs with velcro straps made especially for icing your feet. There’s no mess, and they stay in place!
Try Self-Massage for Added Compression
Add some extra compression to your RICE protocol by using some simple, effective compression massage techniques to improve blood flow and help break up potential scar tissue.
Hydrate While You Elevate
While you take the time to elevate your feet on a pillow as you rest, use the down time to hydrate as well! Drinking enough water can go a long way to decrease swelling and maintain healthy circulation.
Give Yourself Permission to Rest Long Enough
Life gets busy! But the more fully you commit to your healing, the faster you’ll be back on your feet and feeling better. Make sure you rest long enough with your feet elevated — at least 30 minutes, and ideally closer to 1-2 hours — to help your body heal efficiently.
RICE as Part of a Treatment Plan for Plantar Fasciitis
While RICE treatment can set the stage for healing, it’s most often used as part of a larger plan to help improve your heel pain and help your arch heal. Along with rest, icing, compression, and elevation, consider proven conservative treatments like stretching (to improve the strength and flexibility of supporting muscles and ligaments in the foot) and orthotic inserts (to realign and support a damaged or deteriorating arch).
Most cases of plantar fasciitis (about 90%) can be resolved without medical interventions through consistent conservative treatment like RICE, stretching, and orthotics. In general, podiatrists and doctors will advise conservative care for 6-9 months before moving on to medical interventions. Stay the course, listen to your body, and hang in there!