Healing plantar fasciitis

healing plantar fasciitis

How can I facilitate healing my plantar fasciitis?

Asked by Lawrene • 809 votes

Plantar fasciitis, or pain in the foot, especially near the heel or arch, is sadly familiar to many of us who run, walk, play basketball or tennis or otherwise are active. An irritation of the long, skinny rope of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, it’s one of the most frequent overuse injuries, especially as we age.

Until recently, scientists believed that it was an inflammatory condition. But when they microscopically examined tissue from sore heels, they found little evidence of inflammation. Instead, the injury seems to involve degeneration of the tissue; small tears in the fascia accumulate and become a constant, debilitating ache.

Because there’s little inflammation, anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, are unlikely to aid in healing the problem. A better response, says Dr. Terrence M. Philbin, a orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Westerville, Ohio, is ‘‘first, to back off training,’’ allowing the slight tears in the tissue to heal. If you

run every day, drop to twice a week or walk for a while.

Meanwhile, stretch. While stretching may be of equivocal value among the healthy. it aids in recovery from sore feet.

“Stretching the calves and Achilles’ tendon is important,” Dr. Philbin says. For a full program of stretches, consult a physical therapist, he says. But a simple, effective calf stretch, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, involves leaning forward against a wall with one leg behind you, heel on the ground, and the other leg ahead and bent, as if you were taking a step. Push your hips toward the wall to fully stretch the calf of the back leg. Hold for 10 seconds, and repeat 20 times on each leg.

And be patient. Recovery from plantar fasciitis typically requires months, Dr. Philbin says, but for most people, it does happen, and without surgery or other invasive treatment.

Do you have a question about fitness? Ask Gretchen Reynolds, and you may be included in The New York Times Magazine’s upcoming Health Issue.

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