Plantar Fasciitis Complete Treatment Guide
Plantar Fasciitis is ruining all your fitness plans and all attempts to make your foot hurt less have ended in failure. You've spent hours googling How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis and all you've found is vague and contradictory claims.
This is why we put together a comprehensive guide for getting rid of Plantar Fasciitis for good.
So why is Plantar Fasciitis so stubborn, painful and treatment resistant?
Because you've been looking in the wrong place. Before your coffee mug comes crashing down the floor, lets define just what Plantar Fasciitis is.
Plantar Fasciitis Definition
Plantar Fasciitis is when the bottom of your foot hurts. Words like Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Fasciitis are thrown around. But what do you care what it's called? Lets just call it Painful Foot.
What are the causes of Plantar Fasciitis (Painful Foot)
The science says just about everything. Here is what it's associated with:
- Being overweight
- Being sedentary
- Having bad posture
There almost always isn't a single cause for Plantar Fasciitis, which is why so many people struggle to treat it. The solution has to address the root cause.
How the $^#& do I make my foot not hurt then?
Plantar Fasciitis is just a symptom of a much larger dysfunction. Remember the Titanic? Trying to nail the pool table to the floor because it keeps floating away isn't the answer.
The Mysterious Self-Repairing Foot
Your body is constantly being damaged, from outside and inside forces. Impact - the thing doctors tell you to avoid - is unavoidable, although some have avoided it by bunkering down in a computer chair.
In the process of living, your cells get damaged. Luckily, evolution equipped them with a "Help I've fallen and can't get up" button which they use to signal for help.
What happens when your foot experiences impact
In a healthy person: Your repair special unit responds "I'm on my way, ma’am".
In you: the repair special unit "promises" to show up between 8am and 3pm.
So more and more cells get damaged, repairs are minimal and incomplete, and instead of strong healthy cells, your foot develops scar tissue that is tight and painful.
4 Steps to getting rid of Painful Foot (Plantar Fasciitis)
I'm willing to bet this is completely new advice. But the first line of treatment for PF is going to be:
1. Improve your Sleep
Sleep? But sleep is for suckers. Yeah, suckers who don't have chronic inflammation.
Sleep is the primary way your body repairs and maintains itself.
Your aching foot is a result of a chronic condition.
Are you starting to see the picture? Sleeping properly is absolutely critical for your physical health.
One example of this is that growth hormone is primarily released when you are sleeping. Remember those "Fallen and I can't get up" responders? Turns out they only work the night shift!
Here's what science has discovered
Rats that were sleep deprived developed lesions on their body and mysteriously died. You aren't in danger of dying from sleep deprivation, but you are in danger of developing joint problems from poor sleep.
2. Fix your Posture or why your foot inserts aren't working
No matter how great your body is at repair, you're going to be in pain if the damage you're causing daily is greater than you can fix.
Your foot stands at the receiving end of your whole body. Hundreds of pounds of forces go through your foot and it doesn't really get to decide how or when it gets hit. It just tries to do its best to absorb it.
Posture Misconception (Please read) Posture isn't about looking good - although who doesn't mind that - it's primarily about holding your body in the most efficient way. It's not just a stylistic or personality thing; it's mechanical. Just like your car tires should be aligned properly to avoid damage, your body has to be aligned properly.
The worse your posture, the more damaged your foot gets. The best way to fix your posture is by following our guides on posture.
3. Wear Minimal Shoes & Walk barefoot
The vast majority of individuals do not need arch support. Your body is fully capable of taking care of itself if you let it.
Shoes with lots of support will prevent your tendons and tissue from getting stronger and healing.
See, your body is like your stingy boss. He won't upgrade your office chair until you are howling in pain. Your body grew up during a time of scarcity, so it could only spend resources on what feels important. So when your foot notices it doesn't have to actively create an arch for you - since the inserts are doing that - it shuts that department down. Guess what happens next?
My recommendation is to walk barefoot as much as you can. This is immensely beneficial and will strengthen your foot as well as break up scar tissue and other nasty stuff that has accumulated.
For shoes, stick to minimalist shoes with minimal arch. It might take time to transition, but that's the direction to go in.
Is inflammation bad?
Inflammation is often seen as a bad thing, when in reality inflammation is a response to a bad thing. Inflammation in itself is good, without inflammation we would literally die.
Inflammation = Repair.
Why does it hurt so much then? Because your body wants you to lay off. You don't want to turn on the blender while the repairman is fixing it, do you?
The problem is that you do need to use it. Our bodies evolved during a time when it was impossible to get bed rest, we had to move, even if it hurt. So our repair mechanism developed an ingenious solution.
When your body gets injured or just slightly beat up, it throws down collagen on the damaged tissue. Think of it like dumping a bunch of glue. The collagen slowly hardens up and provides support.
You might think, great! Problem solved.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work great because tissue needs to not just be stable but mobile. Think of a door joint, it has to be stable to forces pulling it up and down but it has to give to forces pulling it side to side.
So imagine what happens when you dump a bunch of glue on a door joint and wait for it to dry.
But what if every 15 minutes you mobilized the door joint, i.e. simply opened and closed it. That would break up the glue around the areas that should move, while leaving the areas that shouldn't move untouched. That way you end up with a strong yet mobile joint.
4. Walk, Stretch, and Foam roll for instant Plantar Fasciitis relief
To break up all that glue residue we were talking about, we need to mobilize and relieve tightness.
- Foam roll your body. Start with your back, go down to your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and especially your calves. Check out this video if you don't know what foam rolling is. Here is the foam roller that we recommend from amazon.
- Use a tennis ball (or lacrosse ball) to roll the bottom of your feet and calves. Take a lot of time with this. When you encounter soreness, keep working that area slowly until it gets better.
- Do these stretches
- Go for a walk. Don't overdo it, just do as much as you can. This increases circulation and accelerates the healing process.
The key is to start walking everyday. Do as much you can at first, just focus on quality movement. Dull pain that goes away after a while should be fine, but avoid very sharp pain. Follow the foam rolling routine above before and after your walk to accelerate your recovery.
Other general tips for Plantar Fasciitis
- Don't take NSAID/Anti-inflammatory/Cortisone shots unless you absolutely need short term relief at the expense of long term recovery. Shutting down inflammation is like calling off the fire trucks because their sirens are too loud.
- Don't use ice. Having dealt with joint and tissue injuries for a long time, I've never found ice to help. Ice slows down the healing process by reducing circulation and interfering with inflammation (i.e. repair). The only thing it does is make you numb to pain.
- Use heat instead. Heat will make your tissue softer and more flexible, perfect as a warm up for a foam rolling or stretching session. It will also help circulation and accelerate healing.
- Get professional help. Although you can tackle Plantar Fasciitis on your own, a professional can help speed up the process. I recommend a sports or functional medicine doctor, physical therapist, or massage therapist. Look for someone who will help you deal with the root causes of the issue, not just offer temporary palliatives.
From Pain Foot to Pain Free
Plantar Fasciitis can be a brutal and frustrating condition. This is made even worse by conflicting advice and treatments. Hopefully this guide can help you become pain free, active and happy again. I know these things have tremendously helped my body and took care of any Plantar Fasciitis flare ups I got.