Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints
A night splint or plantar fasciitis brace is one of the most effective ways to reduce morning pain from plantar fasciitis.
This unique tool has a distinct advantage over other conservative treatment methods: As the name implies, it works while you sleep or rest!
Not sure whether a plantar fasciitis night splint is right for you? Keep reading to find out!
What Is a Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint?
Plantar fasciitis night splints were developed primarily to improve morning pain from plantar fasciitis.
And while different types and brands of night splints come in a wide variety of shapes, styles, and sizes, the idea is the same — keep the foot flexed in a gentle flex or stretch while you rest or sleep. This stretch helps the ligaments in the foot stay long, limber, and less susceptible to morning pain.
You’ll generally find two main types of plantar fasciitis night splints: traditional rigid night splints, and soft sock night splints. Each time has its advantages and disadvantages (more on that below!)
How Does a Plantar Fasciitis Splint Work?
There’s a reason that both rest and stretching are two of the most common conservative recommendations for plantar fasciitis. Stretching helps lengthen and strengthen the ligaments and tissues in the feet, which helps break up painful adhesions, take some of the pressure off painful heel spurs, and promote blood flow to the injured area. Rest allows the injury to heal without extra strain, new traumas, or complications.
A plantar fasciitis night splint helps combine these two effective conservative treatment methods–keeping your foot or feet gently flexed in a stretch while you sleep. Since morning pain is largely the result of a tight, damaged plantar fascia ligament trying to adjust to the rigors of walking after a night of inactivity, a night splint helps smooth the transition from night to day, without the the stabbing pain of those first few steps.
Do Night Splints Work for Plantar Fasciitis?
Several key studies show that wearing a night splint “significantly improves” symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
Night splints are especially effective when used as part of a day/night treatment method, tag-teaming the nighttime stretch with the use of orthotic inserts, stretching, and icing during the day. This approach helps keep the arch supported and cushioned while walking or moving about, reduces inflammation that may prologue healing time, and extends the power of conservative treatment into the nighttime hours.
Benefits of Using a Plantar Fasciitis Splint
The most significant benefit for most people who use a night splint is significantly improving morning pain, or the painful stabbing sensation to the heels with the first few steps in the morning. Wearing a night splint to keep the foot and arch stretched keeps the plantar fascia ligament from contracting and becoming less flexible (and more vulnerable to pain) in the morning.
Wearing a plantar fasciitis night splint can also improve your heel pain in the following ways:
- Improving circulation and blood flow while you sleep, which can help break up adhesions and scar tissue
- Speed up the healing process by allowing you to treat your heel pain while you sleep
Traditional Night Splints Vs. Sock Night Splints
There’s two main varieties of night splints for plantar fasciitis: a boot-style brace, and a sock splint. While both options have unique pros and cons, the best choice in most cases is the one that you’ll wear most consistently!
Sock Night Splints
A sock night splint combines the comfort of a cozy sock with the stretch of a night splint, using a flexible insert that runs from the toes to the heel inside the sock. Many people with mild to moderate plantar fasciitis prefer this option, because of how lightweight and comfortable it is!
Pros of a Sock Night Splint
For most people, a sock night splint provides the same relief as a traditional night splint, but is lighter weight, softer, and easier to wear. No straps required, you can take a sock night splint on and off in just a few seconds.
Like a traditional night splint, the sock night splint will hold your foot in a gentle stretch while you sleep, rest, or even watch tv, and it holds your foot in a stretched position, providing morning plantar fasciitis relief. High-quality sock night splints are soft, cozy, and stay cool while you sleep.
For many people, the sock night splint is more tolerable to wear consistently at night, which naturally shows faster results in pain relief and improved morning pain.
Cons of a Sock Night Splint
For individuals with very severe or chronic plantar fasciitis, a traditional night splint, with fully adjustable stretch, may be preferable if the sock night splint isn’t quite enough stretch to reduce morning pain.
As with any product, no two sock night splint brands are alike! Read reviews, and choose a product with good wicking, breathability, softness, and the right amount of stretch for both comfort while you sleep and effectiveness in reducing morning pain.
Traditional Night Splints
A traditional night splint is typically larger and less flexible than a sock night splint. In years past, nearly every night splint on the market was a bulky, uncomfortable contraption, making them difficult to wear. However, modern innovations have produced newer, comfortable and lighter weight models!
Pros of Traditional Night Splints
The biggest advantage of a good traditional night splint is that it’s fully adjustable, allowing you to set the stretch to just the right angle for your comfort.
If you need a little extra stretch to keep your morning pain at bay, a traditional night splint may be the right choice for you, since you can dial up the stretch. Traditional night splints are also backed by the most research and most doctors are more familiar with the design.
Cons of Traditional Night Splints
Some traditional night splints can be bulky, hot, suffocating, or uncomfortable. It’s important to do your research by reading reviews, and choosing a product that comes with a money-back guarantee so you aren’t stuck with something that doesn’t work for you. Before you buy, also double-check to make sure that the night splint you choose is universal (can be worn on either foot).
While night splints are just one of many treatment options for foot conditions like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, they are one of the best ways to make the most of your healing time with a day/night approach! For most people, night splints are most effective when used in tandem with orthotic inserts during the day, exercises designed to stretch the plantar fascia ligament, massaging the injury, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, and icing.