Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to reduce the morning heel pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis? There are many varieties of splints designed for this purpose, but they can be bulky, interfere with comfortable sleep, and some people have to try several before they find one that’s effective. Plantar Fasciitis socks might be a smarter way to proceed. If you find they work, you won’t have to go on searching for a different product; and if they don’t, you won’t have spent much money eliminating this option.
What to Look for in Plantar Fasciitis socks
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The broad ligament running along the bottom of your foot is called the Plantar Fascia. When this tissue suffers damage beyond normal wear and tear, you’ve come down with a case of Plantar Fasciitis (PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tis). The pain is typically felt at the front of the heel, and it can be severe, even debilitating. The condition may also be called Heel Spur Syndrome, but heel spurs do not exist in all cases of Plantar Fasciitis.
Most people experience the worst pain early in the morning, after a night of rest. This is because during the night, your plantar fascia has contracted since it’s not in use. When you take your first steps in the morning, the damaged ligament is pressed suddenly into service and stretches too far, too fast.
So the goal of any Plantar Fasciitis sock is to keep the plantar fascia from contracting, thereby sparing it this shock. In addition to reducing pain, this will also allow the tissue to heal faster instead of becoming re-injured day after day.
Of course, in addition to finding a sock that relieves pain and helps healing, you will need to address any risk factors that tend to lead to Plantar Fasciitis. Many, many people will encounter this painful condition at some point in their life, but you can reduce your chances by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding footwear that does not provide adequate arch support and good toe flexion
- Always stretching thoroughly before exercise, even walking
- Avoiding excessively violent foot stress in your activities. Sports like basketball and tennis are particularly risky, especially if you don’t warm up properly
Treating and healing Plantar Fasciitis is usually a pretty long process. Even with Plantar Fasciitis socks, you can expect at least three months to pass before all your pain is gone and normal activity does not cause a recurrence. The recommended treatment is a conservative plan of icing, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and benign devices like socks and splints. If pain remains severe or persists a year or more, it’s probably time to get more aggressive and seek more formal medical intervention.
When choosing a sock for Plantar Fasciitis, you’ll be faced with a couple of choices. Are you looking for a night-time treatment only, or something you can wear around the house during the day? Or will you want to slip shoes over this sock and wear it as a supportive device for normal activities, at work or shopping? For the most part, you’ll need a separate sock for each purpose:
Night-time Plantar Fasciitis socks have a strap to pull the toes up, so obviously they can’t be worn with shoes. Some of the support socks are too bulky to pair with other footwear, while others are designed to provide specialized arch support while wearing shoes. It’s up to you whether to try all types or just one, but most people with Plantar Fasciitis are encouraged to investigate as many treatments as possible, because there’s no one thing that works for every person.
If you have diabetes, open sores, circulation problems, or any type of skin irritation or rash on your foot or leg, you should consult your doctor before investing in any type of confining device like these socks. He or she might have specific recommendations for the use of these products that will enable you to make the best choice.
Suggestions for Plantar Fasciitis Socks
The Strassburg Sock is “the” sock for Plantar Fasciitis. Designed for night-time wear, it’s a comfortable alternative to bulky, hot splints that make it difficult to walk and interfere with sleep. This sock has two adjustable strap points to allow as much flexion as you desire, although you should never stretch the plantar fascia to an uncomfortable degree. The manufacturer claims that use of this sock reduces recovery time from Plantar Fasciitis by 60%. The sock is made of a knit material that is breathable and washable.
A similar product is Mueller Sports Medicine’s Adjustable Plantar Fasciitis Foot Night Support. Although not styled as a pull-on sock, it’s mechanism is essentially the same as the Strassburg sock, pulling the toes up to achieve the flexion desired.
And yet another sock-like night splint is one supplied by ThermoSkin. In addition to the gentle stretching provided by pulling the toes back toward the shin, the material keeps the foot warm which helps the plantar fascia to maintain the stretch more comfortably. Some people have reported that the warmth causes them discomfort or a “sweaty” feeling, but others feel it’s a small price to pay for the morning relief from pain.
Mueller also offers an arch-support product designed to wear with shoes. Consisting of a simple band that wraps around the arch of the foot and closes with velcro, it provides an upward compression for the arch that can reduce or eliminate pain while walking. These are a good option for people who like to walk barefoot or shoeless around the house, also, but could not because of Plantar Fasciitis pain.
ProTec Athletics also offers an arch support shipped in pairs, unlike the single support by Mueller. The nice thing about an arch support’s upward compression feature is that your plantar fascia is kept extended a tad even when your foot is not touching the ground. This helps promote healing even while you’re at work or performing normal activities around the house.
The Thermoskin Heel-Rite daytime splint uses heat therapy combined with a sock-like splint to both reduce inflammation and reduce pain during the day. A patented lining keeps feet dry and comfortable while maintaining skin at a temperature 2-3 degrees higher than surrounding tissue.
Another interesting entry in the arsenal of Plantar Fasciitis socks is the AirCast AirHeel. It uses air cells to provide support under the arch and behind the heel. The product works by “pulsating compression” every time you take a step, squishing the air back and forth between those two areas. You slip it on like a sock, and use a single strap to get a snug fit. Like other arch-support products, this one can be worn with shoes and even hiking boots (provided they’re roomy enough).
Thorlos socks for Plantar Fasciitis are actual socks that have additional cushioning features meant to provide better arch support for particular activities. Not intended as therapeutic socks to help cure and heal pain, these socks are meant to provide better protection so you don’t develop Plantar Fasciitis in the first place. They offer different versions for running, walking, hiking and basketball. Some of these socks are bulkier than you’re probably used to, and may increase your shoe size. So if you invest in them, be prepared to buy new shoes as well.
Tuli’s Cheetah Heel Protector is not advertised as a Plantar Fasciitis treatment, but as a remedy for heel pain which is the hallmark of the condition. The heel cups absorb shock and are well regarded as an effective way to reduce the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. The ankle support is made of comfortable neoprene, and the heel cups are rubber.
Remember that if the first sock you try doesn’t reduce your foot pain, don’t compound the problem by buying a different version of the same sock. Any effective treatment for Plantar Fasciitis should make your foot feel better right away—it shouldn’t hurt more for a time until the sock is “broken in” or your foot somehow becomes accustomed to the new position. Anything that makes the pain worse is not going to help you heal.
There are so many different Plantar Fasciitis socks available, you’re almost certain to find something that will help you beat the pain of this miserable condition. And if socks don’t work, you can always move on to splints for more serious relief.