Do you experience a sharp shooting pain in your heel as soon as you get out of bed, when you stand up after sitting for a long time, or even just walking?
The condition, called plantar fasciitis, results from inflammation of the ligament (plantar fascia) that connects your heel to your toes. The ligament acts as a shock absorber and holds the shape of the foot. (1)
Certain conditions can lead to small tears in the ligament and make walking and putting weight on your foot a painful experience. If you’ve been suffering from this debilitating condition, continue reading to understand the causes and symptoms of the plantar fascia and the home remedies you can try to treat it naturally. (1)
- Causes & Risk Factors
- Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
- Preventive Tips
- Natural Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief
- Method 1: Foot Exercises
- Method 2: Cold Compress
- Method 3: Epsom Salt/Magnesium Oil
- Method 4: Grapefruit Oil
- Method 5: Turmeric
- Method 6: Cayenne Pepper
- Method 7: Borax
- Method 8: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 9: Iodine
- Tips for plantar fasciitis heel pain relief
Causes & Risk Factors
Excessive straining of the plantar fascia ligament causes plantar fasciitis. However, there is no definitive cause for the straining. Some common risk factors that can predispose you to the condition are: (2)
- Excessive running or walking.
- Standing on a hard surface for long hours.
- Wearing the wrong footwear with flat soles.
- Wearing high heels for too long.
- Being overweight.
- Injuring yourself while jumping and landing on a hard surface.
- Medical conditions, such as reactive arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The common signs and symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Pain and tenderness at the base of the foot, especially in the morning.
- Difficulty walking, running or standing for long hours.
- Warmth and swelling in the foot.
- Heel spurs, which often accompany plantar fasciitis.
Since there’s no single cause of the condition, prevention is about reducing your risk factors for it.
You can also take some precautionary steps, such as wearing doctored shoes, using shoe inserts and doing certain stretching exercises regularly to strengthen your calf muscles and feet.
Natural Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief
Read on to know more about simple exercises and home remedies to ease plantar fasciitis heel pain.
Method 1: Foot Exercises
Stretching and strengthening exercises can significantly help in healing plantar fasciitis. (3) You can perform these exercises anytime anywhere to ease the stiffness and pain in your foot. You can also perform these exercises as a precautionary measure.
A. Foot Stretch
- Sit comfortably on a chair and cross your leg with the aching foot over your other leg.
- Hold your big toe and gently pull it back toward you.
- Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds, then release.
- Do 5 reps per session.
Do this 3 times a day until you get complete relief from the pain.
B. Ball Rolling
Another exercise you can easily do to manage the pain is ball rolling. (4)
- Sit down on a chair and place a ball under your aching foot. The ball should be the size of a golf ball.
- Roll your foot over the ball while applying downward pressure.
- Continue doing so for 10 minutes.
Do this 3 or 4 times daily to wake up pain-free in the morning.
C. Calf Stretch
- Stand in front of a wall with the affected leg stretched out behind you (as shown in the image).
- Keeping the heel in contact with the floor, lean forward and press against the wall with your hands.
- Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then stand up straight.
- Do 3 reps per session.
Do this 3 or 4 times every day to strengthen your calf muscle and plantar fascia. (4)
Method 2: Cold Compress
In addition to the strengthening exercises, using a cold compress can bring immense relief from the pain. (5) The body sends more blood to an injured area to heal it. But the extra blood flow can also lead to unbearable pain.
Using an ice pack helps reduce blood flow to the area to alleviate swelling. The cold temperature also temporarily numbs the area and reduces pain.
However, a cold compress can only help control the symptoms and is not a treatment in itself.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply an ice pack on the painful area
- Bundle up 5 or 6 ice cubes in a soft towel.
- Press the ice pack against the aching foot.
- Do not use an ice compress for more than 20 minutes at a time, as it could lead to a tissue injury.
Use a cold compress 3 or 4 times every day to get immediate relief from the pain. Continue using it for 3 or 4 days to aid faster recovery.
Method 3: Epsom Salt/Magnesium Oil
Supplying magnesium to the affected area can help heal it faster. Magnesium aids the absorption of calcium into the bones and helps heal strained or injured muscles and ligaments.
Soaking your foot in an Epsom salt bath not only replenishes magnesium in your body but also helps bring down the inflammation. (6)
You can also rub magnesium oil on your foot to reap the same benefits. You can make your own magnesium oil.
Single-Step Treatment: Soak your foot in a warm Epsom salt bath daily
- Make an Epsom salt bath by adding 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt for every 1 quart of warm water. Stir well.
- Soak your hurting foot in it for 20 minutes.
- Pat your foot dry and apply a moisturizer. The salt bath can make your skin dry.
Repeat 2 or 3 times weekly until your condition improves.
Method 4: Grapefruit Oil
Naringenin present in citrus fruits are responsible for the anti-inflammatory nature of grapefruits. A 2014 animal-based study also demonstrated the reduction of neuropathic pain in rats on regular use of naringenin. (7)
You can either take oral supplements or massage your aching foot with grapefruit oil. More research is yet to be done on specifying the dosage of the supplements. Consult your doctor before opting for it.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply grapefruit oil on the affected area and massage
- Massage some grapefruit oil into the aching foot to reduce pain.
- Alternatively, you can consult your doctor for supplement dosage as well.
Method 5: Turmeric
Turmeric is an important component of Ayurveda, due to its excellent healing powers. The curcumin present in turmeric imparts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to the spice.
According to a 2014 review published in PloS One, an animal-based study supports the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin that inhibit certain compounds that lead to inflammation, reducing neuropathic pain. (8)
When used to ease plantar fasciitis heel pain, it works as good as any other NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to bring down the inflammation quickly.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume turmeric daily
You can use any of the following options, as per your preference.
- Take 400 to 600 mg of a turmeric supplement 3 times daily. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement.
- Mix 1 to 3 grams of turmeric powder into a glass of warm milk and drink it daily.
- Consume 30 to 90 drops of turmeric liquid extract daily in warm water or milk.
Continue taking turmeric for 1 week to treat plantar fasciitis.
Method 6: Cayenne Pepper
The compound capsaicin that imparts heat to cayenne pepper is also responsible for its pain-relieving ability. (10) It works by blocking the body’s pain signals from reaching the brain.
Cayenne pepper also causes a mild irritation on the skin, thus shifting the focus of your brain away from the foot pain. You can either buy a capsaicin-based lotion from a health store or make your own cayenne salve.
Single-Step Treatment: Rub your aching foot with cayenne pepper salve
- Massage the cayenne pepper salve into your heel until it absorbs completely.
Repeat several times a day until you get rid of plantar fasciitis.
Method 7: Borax
A popular boron compound is borax, found to have anti-inflammatory properties helpful in managing arthritis pain. (9) Borax can also be used in a foot bath to deal with the inflammation of plantar fasciitis.
Being alkaline in nature, it also helps heal bone spurs, a common condition that accompanies plantar fasciitis. Borax also helps remineralize the affected area to speed up the recovery.
Single-Step Treatment: Dissolve borax in water & soak your foot in it
- Add ½ teaspoon of borax to 4 cups of cold water. The cold water will also soothe the pain.
- Stir well until the borax dissolves completely.
- Soak your foot in it for 30 minutes.
Do this every day at bedtime until you wake up pain-free.
Method 8: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar brings relief in plantar fasciitis heel pain by making up for the deficiencies that can aggravate the pain. Being rich in minerals including magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus, consuming apple cider vinegar on a daily basis can help dull the pain of the strained plantar fascia.
Apple cider vinegar also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds like pectin, malic acid and acetic acid that help bring down the swelling and aid faster recovery.
Plus, if heel spurs accompany the plantar fasciitis, the acetic acid will also help break up the acid crystals in the joint. Patients suffering from myositis ossificans reported a significant reduction in pain when treated with acetic acid phonophoresis. (11)
Single-Step Treatment: Drink a glass of warm water with apple cider vinegar every morning
- Add 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
- Stir well and drink it first thing in the morning.
Do this every morning for 4 or 5 days to cure plantar fasciitis.
Alternatively, you can use diluted apple cider vinegar topically. Simply warm up 6 tablespoons of water and mix in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
Soak a washcloth in the solution and wrap it around your foot for 20 minutes. Repeat several times a day for a few days.
Method 9: Iodine
Iodine is a popular folk remedy to get rid of plantar fasciitis. Iodine tincture mixed with crushed aspirin can help bring down the pain and swelling.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply an iodine and aspirin paste on the sore foot
- Add 3% iodine tincture to 3 tablets of aspirin to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste on the sore foot and cover it with a warm cloth.
- Leave it on for 3 to 4 hours, then wipe the area clean.
Repeat 3 times a week to get rid of plantar fasciitis.
Tips for plantar fasciitis heel pain relief
- Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that help lessen inflammation. Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
- Along with the home remedies and exercises, rest as much as you can to help the inflamed ligament heal quickly.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid extra stress on your plantar fascia ligaments.
- If you are a regular runner, take breaks or play other sports to give your feet some rest.
- Cutts S, Obi N, Pasapula C, Chan W. Plantar fasciitis - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Annals: The Royal College of Surgeons of England. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954277/. Published May 2012.
- Lim AT, How CH, Tan B. Management of plantar fasciitis in the outpatient setting. Singapore Medical Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853481/. Published April 2016.
- Sweeting D, Parish B, Hooper L, Chester R. The effectiveness of manual stretching in the treatment of ... Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150253/. Published June 25, 2011.
- Thing J, Maruthappu M, Rogers J. Diagnosis and management of plantar fasciitis in primary care. British Journal of Journal Practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404327/. Published August 2012.
- Tahririan MA, Motififard M, et. al. Plantar fasciitis. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3687890/. Published August 2012.
- Do S-H. Magnesium: a versatile drug for anesthesiologists. The Korean Journal of Anesthesiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3726845/. Published July 19, 2013.
- HU CHUANYIN, ZHAO YUN-TAO. Analgesic effects of naringenin in rats with spinal nerve. Biomedical Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4051469/. Published July 2014.
- Zhu X, Li Q, et. al. Curcumin Alleviates Neuropathic Pain by Inhibiting p300 ... PLoS ONE. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946321/. Published 2014.
- Pizzorno L. Nothing Boring About Boron - PubMed Central (PMC). IMCJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712861/. Published August 2015.
- O'Neill, Brock C, et al. Unravelling the Mystery of Capsaicin: A Tool to Understand ... The Pharmacological Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462993/. Published October 2012.
- Bagnulo A, Gringmuth R. Treatment of Myositis Ossificans with acetic acid ... The Journal of the Chiropractic Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4262804/. Published December 2014.