5 Best Ways to Treat Plantar Fasciitis without Orthotics
Guest Author: Corrine Johnson, @outdoorfamfun
After having three kids, running several marathons and a year of 12 hour shifts on my feet as an ICU nurse, I developed extremely painful plantar fasciitis. I was in pain whenever I was on my feet and even more pain when I was barefoot.
For three years I tried everything I could find on the internet to help: water bottle ice rolling, night splints, arch supports, stretches and more. Nothing seemed to help. I couldn't even stand in the shower barefoot without pain.
So I finally resigned to seeing a podiatrist to buy custom orthotics and a medicated cream. Initially, it helped some, but I was still in pain after running just a few miles. I was especially in pain on my feet all day as a nurse.
I also hated wearing my orthotics with every shoe. At the time we lived in Florida and flip-flops were my life, but flip-flops and orthotics just don’t jive. I even tried the Good Feet Store, but that didn’t produce any better results than the prescribed orthotics from the doctor.
After spending a couple thousand dollars on trying to fix my plantar fasciitis, I finally found a few solutions that started producing real results. The key to finding relief is combination of these five efforts.
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I live in flip flops whenever possible. I found OOFOS flips flops at my podiatrist's office and thought, "Why not try these? I’ve tried everything else." The OOFOS flip flops were my first real turning point in my plantar fasciitis journey.
Whenever I wore my OOFOS flip flops my feet weren’t near as sore as when I was in other shoes. I even started wearing them in the shower to provide relief from just standing there. My husband definitely made fun of me for this, but I didn’t care because my feet no longer hurt while showering.
OOFOS flip flops arch support is amazing! It feels like you are walking on soft foam that molds to your feet. According to University of Virginia laboratory study, OOFOS shoes “reduce energy exertion in the ankles by up to 47%....and absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foam. The arch support does take some getting use to so don’t throw these out if they feel a little odd the first day. Give them a few days for you feet to get use to them.
Not only do OOFOS make flip flops, but they also make other shoes such as clogs, boots, sandals and other closed toe shoes. My mother in law also saw great improvement in her plantar fasciitis after wearing OOFOS shoes. She loves the OOFOS clogs because she can slip them on quick in the winter months.
OOFOS flip flops also make a great recovery shoes for runners even if you don’t have plantar fasciitis.
Links to OOFOS shoes on Amazon:
Original Unisex OOFOS Flip Flop
Women's Specific OOFOS Flip Flop with more styles and colors
Switching my running shoes to the Altra Torin shoe was the second and most impactful turning point on my road to recovery from plantar fasciitis. The Altra Torin has a plush cushioned midsole. They are so comfortable and feel awesome on sore feet. My foot pain from plantar faciitis was nearly gone after only the first two months of running in the Altra Torins and continued to gradually decrease. I ran about 300 miles in each of the four Altra Torin models I have owned.
You don't have to be a runner to benefit from the Altra Torin. I have met several people who purchased the Torin to be used as an everyday walking shoe. I also know several nurses who love them for work.
All Altra shoes are intended to allow your foot to spread naturally in a wider toe box instead of your toes being squished in the front. The sole provides an equal height from the ground on the heel and the forefoot. They coined the term, "ZeroDrop," now referred to as "Balanced Cushioning," which helps create a more natural running form with a low impact landing, but without having to go barefoot.
If you aren't use to "Balanced Cushioning," it is recommended that you ease your way into running and walking in them. For example, start out walking short distances, alternate with other shoes, transition to running a little and then increase your mileage from there.
We were fortunate to live close to an Altra Outlet store in Utah where I found great deals on my frequent Altra Torin purchases as I trained for another marathon. During almost every visit I overheard someone else looking for Altra Torins because their doctor told them it would help their plantar fasciitis.
Read more about this awesome shoe on a dedicated post to the Altra Torin.
Links to Altra Torin shoes:
Women's Altra Torin 4.5 and Men's Altra Torin 4.5 on Amazon
Women's Altra Torin 4.5 and Men's Altra Torin 4.5 on Altra website
3. GOLF BALL FOOT MASSAGE
This is one remedy that I found online that I felt an actual difference after I did it. You basically just roll a golf ball under your foot with a slight amount of pressure. You can do this in small circular motions or from front to back/back to front. This can be slightly uncomfortable if your plantar fasciitis is bad, but it is definitely worth it. I could actually feel small popping as the golf ball broke through and loosened up some of the inflammation.
This website gives a great explanation on how to use the golf ball for a foot massage and why it works. heelthatpain.com/plantar-fasciitis/golf-ball/
4. CALF SQUAT STRETCH
This stretch works wonders. Stand with feet hip width apart, squat down with bum almost touching the floor, while keeping your heels as close to the ground as possible. Hold onto a chair or couch if you feel unsteady. You should feel a stretch from your feet all the way to your calf. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat often.
5. WALL CALF STRETCH
The calf wall stretch always helps my feet feel better. This is an easy stretch to do throughout the day. Spread feet like you are about to do a lunge. Then, press both hands against the wall. Keep the heel of the foot furthest from the wall to the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs so the opposite foot is now in the back and repeat. If you need a deeper stretch you can drop your back knee, keeping your heel to the ground.
After a few months of consistently wearing OOFOS flip flops, running in Altra Torins, using the golf ball foot massage and frequently using the calf squat stretch and wall stretch I finally started having significant pain reduction in my feet. It wasn't a single intervention that made the complete difference in my plantar fasciitis, but the combination of doing all these things consistently that helped heal my feet.
The results have been such a relief after years of trial and error in different treatments. Now, I rarely have foot pain and I can walk barefoot when I want. It is so refreshing to be pain free without orthotics and night splints!
ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR
Corrine has run for more than 20 years in everything from 5K's to Marathons. She is a Boston Marathon finisher. She loves everything outdoors and has a family outdoor blog, www.outdoorfamfun.com. Mother of four, nurse and wife to The Average Joe Runner. Follow her on Instagram @outdoorfamfun!