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Eight Drug-Free Solutions for Plantar Fasciitis

By Mindy Murray, Occupational Therapist, Kauai Therapy & Wellness

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be a real pain in the foot. Plantar fasciitis is the medical term for inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. There are many amazing treatments to help get rid of your discomfort.

1. Stretching Calf Stretching: To help loosen those muscles, take a towel or belt and loop it around the ball of your foot. Keeping your leg straight, gently pull toward your body until you feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg. Hold that for 30 seconds and repeat up to five times. Do this before taking your first steps out of bed in the morning.

Plantar Fascia Stretching: Loosening up the tissues that are irritated by simply pulling your toes up with your hand until you feel a stretch along the ball of your foot. You may feel the stretch anywhere from the ball of your foot to your heel. Holding this position for 30 seconds a few times can make a world of difference in your pain levels.

2. Manual Therapy

Traditional massage of the calf and Achilles heel can also reduce pain. To massage the area yourself, you can use a rolling pin or tennis ball on the sole of your foot to roll out the plantar fascia, gradually applying more pressure once it's tolerable.

3. Footwear/Orthotics

We recommended shoes for plantar fasciitis that should feel comfortable right out of the box. It also should control your foot’s motion and, for some people, correct pronation, good arch support and cushioning, particularly if you have high arches.

4. Dry Needling

A number of studies have investigated the use of dry needling for healing damaged tissues. The American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists believe that dry needling with manual and/or electric stimulation may enhance the quality of connective tissue healing—i.e. improve the structure, organization and strength of collagen fibers. The plantar fascia is made up of a sheet of connective tissue called “collagen” and, therefore, responds well to treatments such as dry needling. Not only has it been shown to reduce pain/inflammation, but it actually has been shown to improve the overall strength of your ligaments.

5. Cupping Therapy

Cupping has been used for centuries among both Eastern and Western-based health-care practitioners; however, cupping therapy is reemerging as a popular modality for chronic nonspecific neck pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, knee osteoarthritis, and to increase pressure-pain thresholds. It is used in therapy to “decompress” the plantar fascia, when traditional massage techniques use “compression.” This suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen (stretch) muscles and encourage blood flow.

6. 830 Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy offers a quick, painless, non-invasive, side-effect free alternative to relieve the debilitating pain of plantar fasciitis by sending light (photons) into your injured tissues and can penetrate 2 inches without being absorbed by the skin, fat or blood. Once the photons find the injured tissues, they stimulate and energize the cells to repair and strengthen at a remarkably fast rate. This treatment does NOT wear off.

7. Weight Changes

If you're overweight, you may put more pressure on the bottom of your feet. That pressure can lead to plantar fasciitis. Losing weight can not only help with plantar fasciitis pain but also help with your overall health and wellness.

8. Taping

Kinesiology tape is one treatment that your physical therapist may use to help provide relief from your plantar fasciitis by taking the pressure of your plantar fascia, supporting your foot’s natural arch, and by facilitating the muscles surrounding your foot to provide support.

It is important to discuss these skilled therapy interventions with your physical or occupational therapist to assess which solutions may work best for you.

We, the team at Kauai Therapy & Wellness, are here for you if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach us at 208.205.9559.

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