Last summer, I struggled with Plantar Fasciitis, an overuse injury of the foot that associated with heel pain and severe foot cramping. The pain is caused by the inflammation of the ligament that connects your heel bone to the ball of your foot.
I’ve tried a number of different strategies to promote the healing process:
- Switching to Superfeet Carbon Insoles, which fit into the low volume trail runners I use for hiking and backpacking.
- Stretching the ligament that runs under my foot arch in the morning and when it cramps up later in the day. I pull on it with a strap or use my hands.
- Stretching my calf muscles
- Taking Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation when the pain flares up
All of these have definitely helped and resulted noticeable reduction in the intensity of the symptoms and associated pain over the past two months.
But my recovery accelerated dramatically when I started using a Compression Sock designed for Plantar Fasciitis. It’s basically a sock without toes, that applies strong compression under the ligament under my arch, raising it, and preventing it from cramping up. This helps to immobilize the ligament so the tears in it can heal faster and provides a significant amount pain relief.
I was amazed at how quickly my heel pain disappeared when I first tried it. It took about a day for the effect to kick in, but my Plantar Fasciitis level has been greatly diminished, so much that I’m symptom free most of the day when I’m wearing the compression sock.
You can try to replicate this “lift effect” using kinesio tape, by running a piece of tape perpendicular to your arch and pulling it up tight before you press the ends of the tape against your skin to lock it in place. But there’s less of a therapeutic arch lift than using a compression sock. My wife, who’s always used kinesio tape to treat her Plantar Fasciitis, borrowed one of my compression socks and switched to them immediately because they provide noticeably more lift to keep the ligament from cramping.
The compression sock is tight, so I wear it under my normal hiking socks. It’s very thin though and I don’t notice it inside the low volume trail runners I wear for hiking and exercise. I wear the compression sock for 8 hour periods and take it off during the evening and night. While it is tight, it’d designed not to interfere with range of motion or blood flow, still I like to give me feet a rest and rinse out the sock every evening since it does accumulate sweat from my socks. Hand wash it using a gentle soap like Woolite and air dry. I put them on damp when backpacking and it’s no big deal.
It is important to get a snug fit, so don’t buy a larger size than you need. At about $16/pair, these Plantar Fasciitis therapeutic socks (made by Bitly) hold their compression very well over time and I haven’t noticed any loosening of the support they provide. When putting them on, make sure you avoid any folds in the fabric so that the sock is flush with your skin. You’ll quickly forget that they’re there, but the amount of pain relief you’ll experience if you have Plantar Fasciitis is quite noticeable.
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