Managing the pain from chronic plantar fasciitis can feel like a full-time job. And whether most of your waking hours are spent at a full-time job, at home, or on the go, it’s not always easy to make time for regular pain relief.
Thankfully, many simple yet effective treatments for instant plantar fasciitis relief can be done almost anywhere, anytime.
We’ve compiled 10 fast, effective methods that will leave your heels and arches feeling great in no time! Use them during a quick 15-minute break from work, at home while you watch TV, or even while you run errands!
1. Massage your feet
Keep a golf ball, tennis ball, or Mobility Ball in your purse, desk, or drawer at home for a cheap, effective massage tool to provide comfort and pain relief throughout the day. Use the ball while sitting at your desk, or take a quick break from standing to roll the ball beneath your foot while applying steady pressure. Don’t shy away from “hot spots” of pain. When you reach a tender area, apply steady pressure (without causing sharp or intense pain) for several seconds before you continue rolling the ball.
Pressure from this massage distracts the pain receptors of the brain, sends blood flow to the arch and heel, and breaks down painful adhesions (improperly healed tears) on the plantar fascia ligament. For extra relief, put the ball in the freezer at the beginning of the day for soothing cold therapy as well!
While larger studies showing the effectiveness of massage are somewhat scarce, you’ll find no shortage of anecdotal evidence. Several smaller studies including one published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies show a notable decrease in pain with self-massage.
2. Slip on an Ice Pack
Icing is a terrific way to immediately reduce heel pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. A review lead by Dr. Chris Bleakley, which evaluated different studies on icing as a conservative treatment for soft-tissue injuries, found that icing offered temporary pain relief and helped people return to work and sports activities faster after an injury.
And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be a drippy, messy affair! Use inexpensive Ice Pack Slippers at work, which mold to the bottom of your foot, stay in place with soft velcro straps, and provide relief where you need it most! Ice Pack Slippers can be stored in your home or breakroom freezer and then slipped on during a 15-minute break while you rest your feet.
You can also make an easy homemade ice pack by placing a bag or frozen peas or corn in a plastic bag. Frozen vegetables make superior ice packs to the ice from your freezer, since the small particles will better conform to the contours of your foot!
A study published in Foot & Ankle International found that 83% of patients were successful in using stretching to improve their plantar fasciitis pain. There are many stretches that can be done simply and easily whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Stretching is one of the most effective ways to reduce pain and heal plantar fasciitis, since it improves the flexibility, strength, and stretch of the plantar fascia ligament itself.
If you have access to a wall, a pebble, a staircase, or a belt, you can find instant relief for your heel pain as well as strengthen your plantar fascia over time! All of these stretches take just a few minutes and are simple and easy enough to memorize quickly!
Check out these simple stretches for plantar fasciitis.
4. Try Dry Cupping
Dry cupping might seem a little strange at first. It involves positioning a cup on the skin and creating a vacuum to apply negative pressure that increases blood flow to the area, which reduces pain and breaks up adhesions to the plantar fascia. Several studies show that dry cupping is effective for pain relief from plantar fasciitis.
Dry cupping can be done anytime you have a few minutes to sit down, in about 10 minutes using inexpensive cupping kits. Cupping sometimes leaves red, bruise-like circles on your feet, but don’t worry — they aren’t painful, and they’ll go away after a few days.
5. Use Toe Separators
Toe separators elongate shrunken tendons that have become short and tight, gently encouraging toes to uncurl to a healthy position. Toe stretchers also improve blood flow to the feet, which break down adhesions, improve heel and foot pain, and strengthen muscles and ligaments in the toes and beyond.
Use Toe Separators to gently stretch and align the foot and toes anytime you are sitting or lying down (writing an email, watching TV, whenever you have 10-15 minutes!). Not only will your feet and toes be stronger afterward–they’ll feel great, too!
6. Use Sock Splints at Night, and Orthotics During the Day
If you spend a lot of time on your feet, you’ll want to use orthotic inserts to cushion your feet and reduce pain while you walk. Heel Seats are inserts made specifically for plantar fasciitis and raise the foot’s arch to the optimal position to relieve pain from heel spurs, as well as targeting pressure points in the foot for rapid pain relief. The best part about this treatment is that it works while you walk or stand! No need to stop what you’re doing.
If you spend a lot of your day sitting, you can also use a Sock Splint to keep your foot gently stretched and relieve pain while you send emails, read a book, watch TV, or rest on the couch. Many people with plantar fasciitis choose to tag-team orthotic inserts and sock splints throughout the day, whenever they will be resting or standing/walking. Many podiatrists recommend these softer sock splints instead of bulkier night splints since they are easier and more comfortable to wear consistently—which is key to success in healing!
7. Try TENs Therapy
TransCutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS therapy, is a relatively new treatment for plantar fasciitis that stimulates the nerves in the feet with small doses of electrical current to improve blood flow and interrupt the body’s signals for pain. Some TENS devices look like a pair of sandals that you can slip onto your feet beneath your desk at work, while you sit on the couch at home, or even while you are lying in bed first thing in the morning. Other TENS units look like a small cell phone, with attached electrodes that can be placed on different parts of the foot.
Emerging evidence, including a study published in 2017 in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science show that TENS therapy significantly helps reduce inflammation, reduces stiffness and pain to the plantar fascia, and reduces pain while walking and other activities.
8. Strengthen Your Feet With a Washcloth
In one study, patients who were receiving shockwave therapy for plantar fasciitis were split into two groups: those who added simple plantar stretches to their routine, and those who did not. At the end of eight weeks, the patients who stretched were much more satisfied with their overall treatment experience.
One of the easiest ways to stretch your feet is with a simple washcloth. You can bring this washcloth with you to work, or keep one on your nightstand at home for a simple, fast pain-relief method any time! Simply sit on a chair or your bed, and put the washcloth on the floor in front of your feet. Then, using only your toes, attempt to pull the washcloth underneath your feet. (Watch this video to see the process).
This deceptively simple exercise strengthens and builds weak muscles in the feet that contribute to plantar fasciitis. Make sure you do this stretch with both feet, not just one!
9. Roll Your Feet with a Water Bottle
Chances are, you have a water bottle at your desk at work, in your kitchen at home, or on your bedside table. With this simple remedy, you can turn into a great tool to treat plantar fasciitis.
Similar to the ball stretch, simply sit in a chair and roll the water bottle between the heel and ball of your foot ten times, then switch sides. Apply steady pressure, but never to the point of pain. For extra healing and relief, freeze it beforehand!
Watch this video to see how it’s done.
10. Stretch Your Feet With a Book
Have a thick book lying around (a dictionary, or the employee handbook, perhaps?). You have a fantastic tool for treating plantar fasciitis! Use this technique during a break at work, or make a habit of doing this stretch each morning before you head out the door. The book stretch offers quick pain relief for plantar fasciitis and also strengthens the ligaments and muscles in your feet!
Place the book about two feet away from a wall. Then, stand on top with your heels hanging off the back edge. Slowly lean forward with your hands in front of you until your weight is supported against the wall in front of you. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, straighten your back, and lift your feet up and down using the balls of your feet. Next, do this stretch with one foot–then switch sides!
Whether you spend most of your time at a desk in an office, behind a store register, or on your feet running after grandchildren at home, these quick plantar fasciitis treatment techniques are fast, easy, and adaptable to almost any situation. Keep this list handy to keep your heels and arches happy all day long!