Do you suffer from plantar fasciitis? If so, you may be wondering which type of treatment is best for your situation. There are many different forms of treatment available to help with the pain and inflammation from this condition including cold therapy, heat therapy or a combination of both.
The reasoning behind using hot or cold for plantar fasciitis is because they cause vasodilation (opening) or vasoconstriction (narrowing) in blood vessels. By using either method, the temperature of blood vessels in your injured area will change which can help stimulate healing.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: neither heat nor cold will heal your plantar fasciitis, but the heat will help relieve the pain. Cold, on the other hand, helps reduce swelling and they only provide relief from the debilitating pain that comes with plantar fasciitis.
Some people swear by heat, others swear by cold. You may have heard that heat is more beneficial than cold, but what exactly are the benefits of heat or cold?
In this blog post, we will discuss how each form of treatment works and what studies say about their effectiveness, and whether they offer a real solution to the problem. Read on to learn which one might work best for you!
Hot or cold for plantar fasciitis: How to decide?
There are some basic guidelines that can help with determining which type of therapy will work best for your individual situation. The first thing to consider is the severity of the condition; if you have acute plantar fasciitis then it may be best not to use any form of heat at all. However, most cases are chronic and can benefit from some type of therapy such as cold or heat treatments.
When it comes to choosing between heat or cold, another factor that you need to take into consideration is whether you have inflammation. If you have inflammation, you probably want to try heat. But if you have a cortisone shot and your feet are numb or there’s swelling, then cold is the way to go.
1. Heat therapy for plantar fasciitis:
Although heat and ice are both used to relieve plantar fasciitis, heat has been proven more beneficial than ice, according to research. Experts recommend heat therapy as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate plantar fasciitis.
Heat is more effective because it increases blood circulation, which delivers nutrients and oxygen to the affected area, removing inflammation and speeding up the healing process. Heat also breaks down calcium deposits, which helps to relieve pain.
Benefits of heat therapy for plantar fasciitis:
- Heat therapy works by increasing blood flow and easing the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis.
- Heat also relaxes tense muscles and can help with muscle spasms and cramping.
- Heat therapy is noninvasive and doesn’t require professional supervision.
- Heat therapy also increases the extensibility of tendons and muscles, which makes them feel looser and more flexible.
- Heat therapy can increase your range of motion, and it can help loosen up tight muscles so you can regain some flexibility.
- Heat therapy also benefits people with arthritis, because heat therapy eases inflammation and stiffness.
When and how much heat to apply:
The best time of day to use heat on your feet depends on when you normally suffer from pain, feel discomfort, or if you have had a flare-up that has lasted more than 48 hours. If you have pain or discomfort first thing in the morning, use heat in the evening so your feet don’t get cold during the night. If you have it at the end of the day, heat in the morning. It is recommended to use heat on your feet before going to bed or before getting out of bed in the morning.
Heat should be applied at least 2 times per day but not more than 3 times per day and no longer than 15 minutes each session. You can also take ibuprofen before bedtime to help with inflammation and swelling while sleeping.
Best way to apply heat for plantar fasciitis:
If you’re active, there are some things you can do, such as using a heating pad which is the most common and convenient way to apply heat, and massaging your feet if you have plantar fasciitis. The best time to use the heating pad depends on your schedule and what is convenient for you. You can also wear shoes with a built-in heating pad, or use a hot water bottle or heating pad wrapped in a towel.
If you’re passive, you can soak your feet in warm water and Epsom salts, or apply a warm compress. It’s a good idea to wear compression socks or compression sleeves. Compression increases blood flow, and it can help speed up recovery. Compressive wraps, such as plantar fasciitis sleeves, are useful because they provide targeted, deep heat that doesn’t hurt your skin.
2. Cold therapy for plantar fasciitis:
Cold therapy is one of the oldest forms of treatment for plantar fasciitis that has shown many benefits in relieving pain in the affected area and is recommended as the first line of defense for heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.
Many people report good results with ice therapy, especially during the first stages of the condition. The cold therapy will decrease inflammation, reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, and relieve pain. It is non-invasive, safe, and highly effective in fighting plantar fasciitis.
Benefits of cold therapy for plantar fasciitis:
- Cold therapy works by increasing blood flow to the area, which reduces pain and inflammation.
- Cold also numbs sore muscles and eases spasms, helping you to feel more comfortable.
- The cold of a frozen ice pack also has a similar effect to an ice massage, which can temporarily relieve stiffness.
- Like heat therapy, cold therapy is noninvasive and doesn’t require professional supervision.
However, cold therapy isn’t necessarily relaxing. Some people find the cold uncomfortable and painful.
When and how much cold to apply:
Cold applied for 20 minutes prior to bedtime has been found to be the most effective treatment for reduced symptomology caused by plantar fascia inflammation. Cold therapy for plantar fasciitis can involve applying an ice pack or gel pack to the heel for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. The cold constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation, which can help reduce pain.
It’s important not to place the ice pack directly on the heel, as this can cause more harm than good. Instead, wrap the ice pack in a cloth, and place it on the heel for 15 to 20 minutes. However, the treatment should be stopped if the pain increases or the area becomes red.
Best way to apply cold for plantar fasciitis:
The list of creative ways to apply cold therapy to your feet is extensive. There are:
- Ice baths: These provide relief for pain and stiffness. Instead of using ice, try soaking your feet in a tub of cold water for 15 minutes. This treatment can help reduce inflammation and swelling from injuries, such as sprains or torn ligaments.
- Gel packs: These can be used to reduce swelling by compressing the affected area.
- Frozen water bottles: These provide cold therapy to specific areas by relaxing the muscles and decreasing blood flow to the area.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy uses cold-water treatment to reduce pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia. The treatment involves placing ice or ice packs on the area of the foot that has been injured or injured in the past. This treatment is effective in treating plantar fasciitis and other foot problems because it temporarily decreases the swelling in the area and relaxes the muscles that may be sore or tight.
3. Alternating between heat and cold therapy for plantar fasciitis:
While both heat and cold therapy have their own benefits it may not offer a permanent solution. That’s why alternating between both hot and cold treatments is found to be the most helpful in eliminating the pain.
Here’s how alternating between hot and cold therapy works:
- The plantar fascia is an elastic tissue, so applying heat to it can temporarily relieve the pain. A hot compress can loosen the plantar fascia, allowing it to relax.
- Applying cold therapy after heat helps reduce inflammation and pain and swelling. This triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers, which make you less sensitive to pain.
- Applying heat to your foot for about 10 minutes, followed by cold therapy, can help relieve the pain from plantar fasciitis.
How to alternate between heat and cold therapy:
- Start by soaking your affected foot in warm water. Get in at least 10 minutes, but you can stay longer if you like.
- Next, place a cold pack on the heel for 10 minutes.
- Switch to a hot pack for 10 minutes.
- Repeat the cycle three more times, alternating between cold and heat.
- Next, soak your foot in cold water again.
- Next, dry the foot completely.
- After you’ve finished your treatments, apply ice to the heel for up to 20 minutes.
- Wrap a cold pack in a towel before applying it to the area.
- For the best relief, repeat this treatment daily.
- Wear shoes with plenty of cushioning and a supportive arch.
- Limit your activity until the pain subsides.
Other home remedies for plantar fasciitis:
While hot or cold for plantar fasciitis are two of the most common home remedies for plantar fasciitis, there are other effective treatments you can try as well. Here are some options:
Massage your foot by rolling a golf ball or tennis ball under it for several minutes each day or you can use a massage gun. This can help increase blood flow to your foot and stretch tight muscles and tendons in your foot, which can reduce pain.
Stretching your arch and ankle throughout the day may help relieve pain. You can also do some simple stretches before getting out of bed in the morning and in the evening when you get home.
Resting your feet
Resting your feet. Reduce the amount of time you spend on your feet throughout the day, especially if you feel pain while standing or walking. This will allow your plantar fascia to relax and heal itself.
The pain associated with plantar fasciitis can be debilitating. Heat and cold therapy can help relieve pain and stiffness while allowing the body to heal and recover. Both methods have their respective benefits and drawbacks. Heat therapy is often used for pain relief in muscles and joints. Cold therapy is used for muscle relaxation and pain relief in joints. Although treatment options vary by patient, what works for one person might not work for the other. So you can try hot or cold for plantar fasciitis or you can try alternating between both and find what works for you and stick to that.