Icing The Plantar Fascia Ligament


Chances are, you’ve heard that it’s a smart idea to ice an injury, but have you ever wondered why icing works and how to do it the right way?

How Icing Injuries Works

When an injury occurs, the blood and fluids rush to the injury site. This is an important part of the healing process, but it can be accompanied by significant pain. With moderate use of ice, blood vessels can be temporarily constricted to slow down the flow and prevent the leakage of blood.

At the same time, the cold has a numbing effect on the tissues, reducing nerve sensations of pain. Be careful not to over-ice an injury – this can lead to tissue damage – but appropriate use can minimize discomfort on a temporary basis.

Why Icing Is Recommended For Plantar Fasciitis

The condition of Plantar Fasciitis revolves around injury to the elastic plantar fascia ligament that bridges the arch of your foot from heel to ball. In this condition, small tissue tears and inflammation commonly develop. Ice is used as a vehicle for reducing inflammation and providing relief. The bottom of the heel is typically the most painful area of the foot in the condition of Plantar Fasciitis, but the arch may also be very sore. If you’ve developed this ailment, your goal must be to recover from it via a combination of rest, icing, heel stretching exercises and orthotic options such as our pain-relieving shoe inserts.

How Long to Ice Plantar Fasciitis

It is ideal to ice your heels for 10-20 minutes. When you ice for less than 10 minutes you may experience temporary numbness but not the added benefits of reducing inflammation. If you ice for more than 20 minutes, your icing may become counterproductive by increasing blood flow to the area and worsening inflammation rather than decreasing inflammation.

The ‘Don’ts’ Of Icing

  • Do not apply ice directly to your skin – it can cause frostbite. Be sure that ice is kept separate from your skin via a thin hand towel, washcloth, paper towels, or other barriers.
  • Do not apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • If, while you are icing your feet or any other part of your body, you feel that you are losing sensation or experiencing a ‘pins and needles’ sensation, remove the ice.

If the feeling does not return or your skin fails to warm up within 45 minutes of the application of ice, contact your doctor. You may ice your feet more than once a day but should allow at least an hour between the removal of the first ice pack and the application of a second one. If you have circulatory issues, ask your doctor before using ice.

Six Options For Icing The Plantar Fascia And Heel

Icing is one of the most inexpensive treatment options for plantar fasciitis. Most icing options cost just a few cents for the water you use to make ice, or a few dollars for supplies. Some can be accomplished with what you already have on hand at home. Consider these options and experiment to find which one delivers the most relief for you.

Ice Therapy Slippers – These ice pack slippers are by far the easiest icing solution for heel pain. Shaped like the bottom of your feet, your body weight will distribute the ice gel where you need it most. Store your Ice Slippers in the freezer, and strap them on for 5-10 minutes whenever you need pain relief.

Ice Cubes – Fill a towel or plastic bag with ice cubes and apply to the sore area of the foot. If using a sealable plastic bag, you can even add a little water to help the ice conform to the contours of your foot.

Frozen Vegetables – A bag of frozen corn or peas makes a great ice pack. You can re-use the bag as many times as you like, but be sure to label it as a medical device after the first use. Never eat vegetables or any other food that has thawed and been refrozen. It can cause food poisoning.

Store-Bought Ice Packs – Ice packs come in all shapes and sizes at the market. There are even gel packs that can be heated or frozen. These will cost a little more than using ice you make at home, but they are a good thing to have on hand for first aid in any household.

Paper Cups – If you’re dealing with ongoing symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, a good tip is to fill paper cups with water and put them in the freezer. Then, when you want to ice your foot, simply peel the paper cup away and you’ll have a nice cylinder of ice that fits well under the arch of your foot. The circular shape of the ice makes it a natural for a rolling massage action along the sole of the foot. This can be very soothing.

Water Bottle – Freeze a single serving water bottle and combine icing with stretching, as shown on our page of free heel stretching videos.

When Is The Best Time To Apply Ice?

In the case of Plantar Fasciitis, it is recommended that you ice twice a day. However, it is not recommended that you apply ice first thing in the morning. One of the hallmark symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis is morning heel pain – pain that occurs when you first get out of bed in the morning. Your feet need a chance to warm up upon arising, so it’s generally best to apply ice later in the day.

Good times might include your lunch break and another session in the evening. While morning heel pain typically resolves after you’ve had a chance to walk around a bit, the pain frequently returns as the day progresses and the plantar fascia ligament bears the weight of your activity. You may experience a great deal of discomfort by day’s end, and this is a great time to utilize ice for its anti-inflammatory and numbing effects.

Icing Doesn’t Equal Healing

Remember that icing an injury is not the same as curing it. If you have developed Plantar Fasciitis, you must treat the injury to your ligament in order to regain your health. Please make use of our extensive library of free information to discover the best non-invasive, natural methods of recovering from this common and painful condition.

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