Coping with Plantar Fasciitis (with bonus video of my foot!)

We’re back from hiatus! I enjoyed my break, but I have to admit it’s a challenge to get back into the swing of things. A blog post three times a week?! That can’t be right. I can’t possibly have that much to say!

In fact, I was having some trouble coming up with a post topic for today–at least one that didn’t involve any research. But as so often happens, the blog gods took pity on me and dropped a topic in my lap.

I was watching some matches at my tennis club this morning when a friend approached me to ask if I’d ever dealt with plantar fasciitis. (She seemed to already know that I had, which makes me suspect I was a whiny baby about it back then!)

Now, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. But I dispensed the general advice that helped me during my own bout a number of years ago. Since plantar fasciitis seems to be a fairly common complaint among tennis players, I’m going to pass that advice on to you.

  • Don’t walk around barefoot, or in sandals or other unsupportive footwear. Ever. Even in the house. Wear lace-up, supportive, sensible shoes. Running shoes are ideal.
  • Put on your shoes the moment you get out of bed. Don’t start walking around until your shoes are on! (Yes, you’ll look silly wearing sneakers with your frilly nightie. Get over it.)
  • Before you get out of bed in the morning, take five minutes to stretch your foot. Flex it and hold it for a minute. Release and repeat a few times. This will help reduce the pain that’s often worse with those first few steps of the day. During the day, if you’ve been seated for a while, stretch your foot again before standing.
  • Several times a day, run your foot back and forth over a tennis ball. You can also use a frozen water bottle for this purpose. (My feet are already cold enough, thank you very much, so I prefer the tennis ball.)

Finally, I showed my friend how to wrap her foot to provide extra support during the day. I found this technique online years ago, but I haven’t been able to find a link for this exact wrapping pattern since then. Videos showing other wrapping techniques are available online, and they probably work just as well. But I’m going to stick with what I know. I can tell you this wrap gave me enormous relief from the discomfort.

I buy a 4-pack of generic sports tape from CVS, available for maybe $10. It’s not the stickiest tape around, but it does the job. (My friend just happened to have a roll of sports tape with her. Weird, right? This is how I know the blog gods want me to write about this topic.)

During my bout with plantar fasciitis, I wrapped my foot twice a day, once before playing tennis and again after my shower. Here’s how it’s done:

After I wrapped my friend’s foot this morning and she put her sock and shoe back on, she was surprised at how much better she felt.

It’s possible the wrap offers some curative value, but its main purpose is to alleviate the pain. You’ll still need some patience, as plantar fasciitis can be a stubborn problem.

And when you’re finally cured of the pain, do yourself a favor. Limit the time you spend in flimsy footwear during the summer. During my own bout, a podiatrist told me he sees the majority of his plantar fasciitis patients during the late summer and fall, after people have spent months in unsupportive shoes. I’ve tried to be mindful of that ever since. Whenever I begin to feel a twinge in my heel, I switch to my sneakers and break out the tape. I manage to nip it in the bud every time.

Hope these tips help anyone suffering from PF pain. Here’s to happy feet on court!

12 thoughts on “Coping with Plantar Fasciitis (with bonus video of my foot!)

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  1. Thanks, Deb. This is very helpful. I just finished a bout of PF and am in the phase of babying my foot so it doesn’t come back. One thing that I found very helpful was to wear clogs, because they are supportive and allow for almost no movement of the foot.

    1. Interesting. Do the clogs have backs or not? Or doesn’t it matter? I have clogs that I love, but they’re backless and somewhat high heeled. I think they’re not the best for PF for me–my foot does a lot of work to keep the shoe on. But I can imagine that a lower heeled one with a back would feel pretty good!

  2. Thank you for this post Deb! I have been dealing with Planters too for the first time and so I will try your tape advice! I can’t believe how common it is. Now that I know what it is I keep hearing that other people I know have had it!

    1. So, so common, and it seems to me I’m hearing more people complain about it over the past year than in prior years. Maybe shoes are getting worse, although ballerina slippers and the like aren’t exactly a new trend. Maybe we’re all just getting older? No, that can’t be it.

      Good luck with the PF–hope the taping helps!!!

  3. I had the same experience that shoes made all the difference. I need good arch support, even in my “slippers”– which are now a dedicated pair of sneakers.

    My teenage son started getting heel pain from his Vans skateboard sneakers that don’t have enough support. I didn’t know about the taping. I will try it for him. Thanks!

    1. Knowing I was going to be walking for miles on my vacation, I went shopping for supportive shoes that could also look presentable in restaurants. I’d estimate that 95% of the shoes for sale offer little to no support. And the cuter the shoe, the less likely there is to be any support. I wasn’t thrilled with what I ended up choosing, but at least I have no pain.

      I hope the taping works, although taping alone probably won’t do much good if he’s still wearing the Vans. Can you buy arch-support inserts for them?

  4. In my own experience with PF, the problem stemmed from too much pull on the plantar fascia (the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot) originating from the calf muscle/achilles tendon. I did the ball/water bottle trick also, but the thing that I think helped the most was stretches for my calves. So one was putting the front half of my foot on a step and letting my weight push my heel down. The other involved hands against a wall in a modified lunge position with both feet flat on the floor, but one leg extended straight back and one foot on the floor under you. Then stretch the calf of the leg extended back by pressing into it, still foot flat on the floor. I did these a few times daily while suffering from PF and once a day or so when not to prevent recurrence.

    1. I’ve done the heel drop and calf stretches for my Achilles pain, and I can see how that would be helpful for PF as well. I can’t remember if the podiatrist had recommended it or not. It certainly makes sense, since it’s all connected.

  5. The biggest help for me w PF was wearing a boot to bed to keep my foot at a 90* angle from my leg. Not the easiest to get used to, but it helped SO MUCH. Now when I feel it coming back again, I bring back the boot (easy to find a pretty low-profile one on amazon). And I totally agree on stretching, never going barefoot and only wearing supportive shoes.

    1. I knew someone was going to bring up that damn boot. I tried it for about 3 hours one night before giving up, desperate for some sleep. There’s a sock, too, that does much the same thing. Medieval torture devices. (But yes, supposedly they’re effective.)

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