You may be sad to relegate your flip-flops to storage, but your feet are likely rejoicing. Getting out of those overly flexible, nonsupportive shoes should help reduce the heel and arch pain caused by plantar fasciitis. According to Christine Dobrowlski, DPM, a podiatrist and owner of Northcoast Footcare, this condition—caused when the ligament-like plantar fascia along the bottom of the foot is torn or inflamed—will most likely make itself known with a sharp or stabbing pain at the inside of the heel or arch when you first step out of bed. While the pain might work itself out during the day, for some it will mean chronic agony—even after mere minutes of mild activity, such as walking.
To ease the pain, avoid all shoes that don’t have good arch support, says Dobrowlski. “To test your shoe, grab the heel of the shoe, place the toe of the shoe on the ground, and press down vertically,” she says. “If the shoe collapses or folds in half, it’s not supportive enough.”
Most importantly, Dobrowlski advocates stretching. Place your affected foot on the opposite knee, grabbing your toes with your hand and pulling them back. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, and repeat the exercise three times per day.
Finally, avoid stairs, hills, and high-impact activities as much as possible while you heal. “Take a break from even simple activities, such as gardening, which involve squatting and placing excess stress on the arch,” Dobrowlski says. And, just as you would do for many other injuries, ice your heel for 15 to 20 minutes two to three times a day. For an ice-massage combo, roll your foot over a frozen water bottle