Plantar Fasciitis: What Can We Do About It?

February 21, 2012

As runners we all, sooner or later, have to deal with plantar fasciitis.
And it’s always really bad news: it hurts, takes a long time to recover and, on top of that, we can’t train while we’re dealing with it.
But also non-runners can suffer from it, as plantar fasciitis can occur to anyone, unexpectedly, while walking or just performing an activity that requires standing up.
I’m currently dealing with a bad case of plantar fasciitis and it’s so bad that I can’t put my left foot down without suffering from excruciating pains.
My doctor told me to rest, apply some anti-inflammatory topical cream, maybe pop-up a couple of pills to ease the pain and just wait anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
I know myself too well, and waiting for me it’s just not an option; also because there are tons of things I can do speed up the recovery process of plantar fasciitis.
Let’s discover more...

What is plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis happens when the thick band of tissue (i.e., the fascia) on the bottom of the foot is overstretched and/or overused.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, accounting for 11 to 15% of all foot symptoms that needed medical treatment each year. It’s estimated that around 10% of the general population in the United States have some form of plantar fasciitis and it most often affects active individuals aged between 30 and 70.

Image courtesy of HeelThatPain, all rights reserved. Visit their website for more information about plantar fasciitis.

 Risk factors for such injury include:
  1. Foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches);
  2. Obesity or sudden weight gain;
  3. Long-distance running (especially on uneven surfaces);
  4. Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel);
  5. Shoes with poor arch support or, in case of women, high heels.
When suffering from plantar fasciitis you’ll feel pain and stiffness in the bottom of the heel. In some cases it will also ache or burn.
The pain is usually worse in the morning (when you take your first steps), after standing or sitting for a while, and, of course, after intense activity.
The pain may develop slowly over time, or suddenly after intense activity.

How to recover

First of all you should try to acknowledge what caused the plantar fasciitis and stop doing right away.
So, if you've gained weight, get busy and drop some pounds, soon. If you've started jogging or doing impact aerobics, stop. If you work on a hard surface, make sure you have some serious arch support in your shoes and shock absorbing soles.
Secondly you should get the inflammation down. If the pain is severe applying ice on is always recommended, also using some anti-inflammatory topical cream can help.
Personally, instead of taking over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Tylenol), I prefer to increase my daily intake of fish oil capsules. There’s nothing better for our body then fish oil to treat inflammations.
I like also to drink a lot of pineapple juice as it’s the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory we can use.
Until the pain goes away completely, avoid walking barefoot or using flip-flops. The risk is to re-injure your foot over and over again. Instead, at home keep a pair of slip-ons with excellent arch supports always on and remember to use shoes with excellent support throughout the day.

Stretch your lower leg and foot a lot, there’s no enough of it. Why? Because while you're sitting at your desk or lying in bed, the calves, achilles tendon, and connective tissue on the sole of the foot get shorter.
When you stand up, you might re-aggravate your plantar fascia. So, before you get up, straighten your legs (take the bends out of your knees) and use the muscles on the fronts of your shins to pull your toes back towards your shins. Extend your heels away. Do this several times before your put your feet on the floor. Do it every time. It's called dorsiflexion of the ankle and by doing that you will greatly speed up your recovery process.
Calf muscle stretching might also be helpful: the classic runners stretch by leaning into a wall is a good thing to do.

The thing that I found works best for me is to sit on my heels for a few minutes in what in yoga is called the thunderbolt pose. This pose helps rebuilding the shape of the feet arches. It works better if you can have your heels close together, rather than apart.
However, if you experience knee pain while doing this pose: STOP! It doesn’t serve you any good to try to heal your plantar fascia but hurting your knee at the same time.
I also found that practising Bikram Yoga is helping me dealing with the fasciitis. I skip the three balacing on one-leg poses (standing head to knee, standing bow and balancing stick) on my injured left food but do all the others. The heat and some of the poses proves to be very helpful in the recovery process; and after class I almost feel no pain at all (which is pretty encouraging!)


  1. Great info. Hope you'll recover fast.

  2. Thanks, living with the frustration at the moment as well

  3. Thanks, living with the frustration at the moment as well. Regular exercise can be healthy and enjoyable.

  4. Hi Mike, since athletes, especially runners are at increased risk for the said foot problem, I do believe that you must have a good pair of supportive shoes. Wearing shoes with poor cushioning will only decrease flexibility in the foot and ankle, as well as contribute to imbalanced muscle strength. According to a research I’ve read, plantar fasciitis is mainly caused by wearing unsupportive shoes. So, if we want to eliminate the foot problem once and for all, the goal must to develop foot strength with perfect shoes.

  5. Thank you! I've have a heel spur and couldn't walk in months. I read your article a few days ago and since I stated using your advice, I can walk without pain. It's working. This has been a huge relief. I am going to try and do this as much as possible.