Beat Plantar Pain

Relieve your sole in four weeks with stretches and trigger point therapy

by Ruth Emmett

plantar pain
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Need to save a sole in distress? Massaging your legs may soothe a sore plantar fascia - the band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot.

"The plantar shares an attachment site with your calf muscles in the calcaneus [heel] bone," explains sports therapist Sophie Vowden, "so tight knots in the calves can pull on the calcaneus, subsequently pulling on the plantar."

In a 60-strong study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy, subjects undertook the following regime to soothe the pain.

Picture credit: Nucleus Medical Art, Inc./ Getty Images

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Discuss this article

Have had plantar a number of times.  Best way to heal it for me was to use a night splint which gently stretches the plantar all night.  Heals in about 6 weeks even while continuing to run
Posted: 06/11/2011 at 20:59

I have plantar pain but in middle of foot and near ball of foot. Was a mild niggle, mostly noticable after 2-3km or when using clutch pedal in car in heavy traffic. I went to see a sports physio who deep massaged under my foot 2 weeks ago and my foot has been 10 times worse ever since!

Anyone have any suggestions? I have heard about the night splint. Can anyone tell me what position my foot should be in to splint?

I am booked on to my 1st half marathon (Bath Half) in March and cant train at all. My training schedule and fitness is disappearing before my eyes. Have been cross training but its not the same.


Posted: 24/11/2011 at 14:43

Diane - I would suggest trying a different physio. When I had plantar trouble a while ago I went to a podiatrist, who gave me some orthotics to wear in my shoes, and I also visited a physio who did masage/ultrasound and strapped it. He also showed me how to strap it myself so I could change the strapping between visits. It took a while to sort it out, but now I  am fine.

Also - yours might not be plantar fasicitis, could be something else. Mine was worse on first getting out of bed in the morning and faded as I used my feet.

Posted: 24/11/2011 at 17:41

Thanks for the feedback Mathschick. Physio diagnosed PF but I dont get any pain in my heel or my toes and it isnt worse first thing in the morning.

I've been running for around 18 months, gradually building up my distance and speed (did 1st 10k race at beginning of Oct) I've always been careful to warm up before and stretch after, I dont increase distance or speed more than 10% in a week, I run 4 days a week and rest for 3 and yet she says its an overuse injury?!?

Have lost confidence in physios for the time being and as I have no one to recommend one locally at the moment I'll try the "Beat Plantar Pain" exercises and see how I get on. 

I'm really at a loss!

Posted: 25/11/2011 at 10:17

As a TCM Acupuncturist I have treated PF both on myself and other runners, usually 1 session and problem is solved, though nothing is guaranteed of course.

Is a technique using a TENS machine on fluctuating wave length on two points, Bladder 57(or 58) and Kidney 3, after obtaining qi on both needles. Patient should feel a vibrating/tingling effect, not where the needles are but under the heel at the sight of the PF pain, and then this should last at least 1/2 an hour to an hour, the longer the better!

I appreciate this is not much use unless you know a good Acupuncturist but any BAcC registered one should be able to replicate this treatment - whether they will do so of course depends on their ego and how good they are with a TENS machine. I would probabaly avoid drop in centres unless you have no money worries, and if you get no appreciable change in your pain levels further treatments may have no more effect than the first!

Posted: 28/11/2011 at 17:05

Foot splint specifically designed for the job should DO the job.  I did all the usual treatments and they helped but not as much as the splint.  In fact if you do some research into plantar faciitis you will see that very little is actually known about causes or cure apart from the general knowlege of history.  There has been VERY LITTLE specific research.
Posted: 30/12/2011 at 16:34

I've had plantar facia for about 17 years. Its caused by the foot arch being too flat, so stretching the plantar tendon. The cure is an inner sole warmed to make it extra flexible, then pressed against the underside of the foot whilst in the natal position ( the position at birth, which is simple to achieve ) The inner sole then firms to hold your foot in absolutely the correct postion at all times. The set is not rigid, the inner sole remains flexible around the correct position.The effect of it is to correctly arch your foot, which in turn puts your knees, hips and backbone in their best positions.

I was very lucky to see someone who's very good at treating all manner of foot problems. It was not expensive ( two visits at about £20 each, and inner soles at about £80 ).Todays costs will be more .

One of the things to avoid for any injury is more bruising, which can be caused by cortisone injections, and hard manipulation of an injury! There are special treatments to draw the excess fluid out, speeding up the repair process.

To finish. I was in such pain, I could not walk more than 200m., and had to stop work. After fitting the inner sole, I was quickly able to resume work, and a few weeks later could do everything, including running 4 miles or more.That was many years ago, and I can still run ( yesterday 13.5km ). Cured!!

Posted: 02/01/2012 at 14:50

@ SenidM

 Do you still treat PF with acupuncture? Not getting much relief from mine using traditional stretching and anti-inflammatory creams.

Be grateful if you could let me know as you appear to have encouraging results, do you have a website?



Posted: 07/01/2012 at 19:35

PF is an overstretch issue.

If your foot pronates too much without enough control, or is stiff and jars when you hit the ground, the PF will be overstetched.

The pain comes from over stressed and over stretched tissue.

Stretching your PF will only increase the stress and stretch. Have a tight calf will stretch your PF. Getting your calf released will take the excessive load off of your PF. Stretching your calf (a la stretch against the wall) will NOT stretch your calf but will stretch your PF.

Control the pronation, or get your foot to take shock better (with stiff feet). Don't stretch (when painful) but do get flexibility in your calf. Don't foget to look where the symptoms come from, though....

Posted: 03/02/2012 at 15:12

It would appear, just like everywhere else on the interweb that there's conflicting opinions from 'experts' - we can't even five experts to agree on whether it's Plantar Fasciaitis or Sesamoiditis.  Running's sh**.  I hate it.

Posted: 14/10/2013 at 18:16

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