If you have an aching or stabbing pain in the heel or bottom of your foot, you might be dealing with Plantar Fasciitis. It’s a common, painful foot condition, but with proper at-home treatment, most people can fully recover and prevent flare-ups in the future.
“Proper” is the key term. There are many tools and recommendations for Plantar Fasciitis at-home treatment that simply don’t work. Let’s explore the three key components of an effective Plantar Fasciitis at-home treatment, with Luke Ferdinands, physical therapist and co-founder of Alleviate.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that causes pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. It occurs when the plantar fascia, the tissue that supports the load and absorbs the impact along the bottom of your foot, becomes damaged.
Throughout the day, walking and other activities put stress on the plantar fascia, leading to small tears. This cycle of injury and inflammation leads to scar tissue formation. Plantar Fasciitis is very painful, but fortunately, responds well to non-invasive and non-chemical treatments that address the root causes of pain.
Is it possible to treat Plantar Fasciitis at home?
Professional foot taping to support your arch, reduce the load on the arch and relieve pain;
Massage to break up scar tissue and encourage healthy tissue growth; and
Eccentric exercises that progressively stress the tissue in the right way to strengthen your lower body, build towards returning to activity pain-free and avoid future injuries.
Our co-founder, Luke Ferdinands, is a physical therapist with 20 years of experience. While working as a team PT for elite athletes, Luke developed a model of care that encompasses these three steps. Applying the method, Luke helped his patients achieve great results and get back on the field.
While a physical therapist's office is the ideal setting for receiving the most effective care for Plantar Fasciitis, it’s not accessible or affordable for everyone. It’s also impractical for many to visit a PT office multiple times a week for re-taping, massage and PT exercises. Fortunately, with the right tools that replicate this gold standard of care, it’s possible to treat Plantar Fasciitis at home.
How to treat Plantar Fasciitis at home: 3 key components
Luke’s athlete-tested approach led to the development of the Alleviate System for foot pain relief. To effectively treat Plantar Fasciitis at home, this comprehensive system focuses on the same three key steps: relieving pain quickly with taping or a brace, repairing your arch with targeted massage, and rebuilding strength through exercise.
1. Relieve pain with a brace that lightens the load
Relieving pain is the top priority for getting you back on your feet. To do this, reducing the load on the plantar fascia is important. Our at-home treatment for Plantar Fasciitis starts with the Loft 2 Brace, which mimics a professional tape job. The Loft 2 Brace lifts the arch, reducing the load on the plantar fascia.
Wear the Loft 2 Brace during activities that cause you pain, whether it’s your morning run, school pickups, or weekend training for that big cycling event.
Reducing the load on your arch relieves pain immediately, so you can begin addressing the root cause of your foot pain.
2. Repair your arch with deep tissue massage
To promote long-term healing, you need targeted massage that breaks up scar tissue and encourages healthy tissue growth. Physical therapists use the IASTM technique to massage the plantar fascia to help realign the knotty scar tissue into smooth, well-organized healthy tissue.
Another key benefit of the massage? It promotes blood flow, which promotes tissue restoration.
The Alleviate System includes the Arch Massager to let you easily replicate the physical therapist’s deep tissue massage for Plantar Fasciitis. The Arch Massager has two peaks that allow you to precisely target the problem area, while the grippy bottom keeps the massager in place, unlike a golf ball that keeps rolling away from under your foot.
Use the Arch Massager for 3-5 minutes, a few times daily.
Many users find it especially helpful to use the Arch Massager in the morning to relieve stiffness and foot pain at the start of the day. Some users have told us that they also keep one under their office desks for quick massage sessions during the day.
3. Rebuild strength through PT-guided exercises
Recurrence of symptoms is common among people with Plantar Fasciitis. In one long-term follow-up study, half of the patients surveyed after 5 years still had symptoms. This high recurrence rate is why it's so important to strengthen the muscles and tendons in your foot, ankle, calf, and hip to prevent repeat injuries and future flare-ups.
The last, and potentially the most important, component of the Alleviate System - the Arch Exercise Program - guides you through step-by-step exercises to strengthen your entire lower body. This is a vital part of the successful Plantar Fasciitis treatment at home.
Take 15 minutes a day to follow PT-led exercises in the Arch Exercise Program.
You don’t need any specialized equipment or go to a PT office multiple times a week. As you move through the stepwise program, you can also track your progress, using the app.
On average, users report a 40% reduction in pain after completing just the first two levels of the program.
"Users report a 40% reduction in foot pain, after completing just the first two levels of the program."
Plantar Fasciitis at-home treatment: What not to do
While it’s possible to treat Plantar Fasciitis at home and fully recover, there are some common mistakes to avoid:
Relying on pain medications for too long
Pain relief is a top priority, but relying on pain medications for too long or taking the wrong kind can slow down your healing. As a rule of thumb, you can generally use the NSAIDs for about a week to break the pain cycle, but don’t use them for 6+ months.
Using ineffective tools
Another common pitfall is using the wrong tools for at-home Plantar Fasciitis treatment. For example, even some doctors suggest rolling a lacrosse ball or a frozen water bottle under your foot, but these can’t provide the precision you need to break down the scar tissue.
Trying multiple ineffective tools is such a common theme among people with foot pain. In our survey of 500 patients, 60% said they still had pain after trying four different treatments. Start with the right tools, and you can significantly reduce the time to full recovery.
Resting for too long
Resting to avoid overextending your plantar fascia and arch is important when your foot pain is acute. However, avoiding activities wholly or for too long can also make things worse.
Instead, physical therapists recommend gradually re-introducing activities in a controlled manner so that you remain active and prevent muscle loss. The Loft 2 Brace in the Alleviate System is an effective tool to stay active: The brace reduces the stress going through your plantar fascia, while keeping pain at bay and protecting the damaged tissue from further injury.
Ignoring the lack of progress
Importantly, if symptoms continue or worsen despite your at-home treatment, it’s vital to seek professional help from a physical therapist or your doctor.
At-home Plantar Fasciitis treatment with Alleviate
Whether you are on your feet for a living or for your favorite hobbies, painful Plantar Fasciitis symptoms can hold you back from enjoying daily activities or achieving peak performance. The Alleviate Arch Massager, Loft 2 Brace and Arch Exercise Program were purpose-built to relieve pain and get you back to doing what moves you. Take it from our community of security professionals, nurses, athletes, and all others who enjoy being active; with a comprehensive toolkit like the Alleviate System, treating Plantar Fasciitis at home and achieving full recovery is within reach.
Plantar Fasciitis is a painful foot condition due to overuse. It involves inflammation and tears in the tissue at the bottom of your foot that bears the load and absorbs the impact of everyday activities.
Physical therapy is the gold standard of treatment, but with the right tools that we‘ve designed to replicate in-person PT, you can successfully treat Plantar Fasciitis at home.
Look for these three essential components in at-home Plantar Fasciitis treatment: Lifting the arch and reducing the load, massaging the scar tissue and strengthening the whole lower body.
Wear the updated Loft 2 Brace to stay active while reducing pain. Use the Arch Massager to break up the scar tissue. Follow the Arch Exercise Program to progressively rebuild strength and prevent recurrence.
It's everything you need to recover, and nothing you don't.