In this article, I am going to talk about Plantar Fasciitis (or PF as it is known popularly). I will also review 7 of the best plantar fasciitis night splint and heel boots to help alleviate the pain caused by this condition.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the instep tendons (or the plantar fascia) that causes intense heel pain. These tendons are a strong band of tissues that stretch from the heel to the middle foot bones. They support the arch of the feet and act as a shock absorber. Repeated injuries to the tendons lead to Plantar Fasciitis.
Here are some other factors that could lead to this type of pain:
- Prolonged standing
- Activities like walking, running etc. especially when overdone or when one is not used to it can also lead to Plantar Fasciitis.
- Sedentary lifestyle can also be one of the factors.
- Improper footwear with poor cushioning or arch support.
- Overuse or sudden stretching of the soles
- The inability to flex the ankle can also cause inflammation of the fascia particularly when the big tendon (Achilles tendon) above the heel at the bottom of the calf muscles is too tight.
- In elderly patients, a bone spur may develop on the heel bone. This can also cause inflammation or pain of the fascia.
- Excessive pronation or the inward rolling of feet
- High arches or flat feet can also cause this condition.
Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis
The main symptoms of this condition are:
- Extreme pain while walking, standing or even when resting the feet.
- The pain is especially present in the morning, first thing upon waking up and when one places the feet flat on the ground.
- Plantar fasciitis sufferers often experience a bit of relief from the pain after walking but the pain may return after or during period of rest. For the same reason, many experience greater pain towards the end of the day.
- Most people do not experience pain while sleeping as the fascia are relaxed and shortened.
- Stretching the feet can also cause severe pain.
- Some patients have a limp.
- In some cases, the pain seems to shift from heel towards the toes and the heel may even appear swollen or bruised.
Why Does it Hurt So Bad in the Morning? How Can Plantar Fasciitis Splints and Braces Help?
The reason why plantar fasciitis symptoms are so bad in the morning is because the feet assume a somewhat slack or curved position while sleeping. Normally, this position is harmless but, in plantar fasciitis, it begins to develop scar tissue on the tendons.
As the patient takes her/his first steps in the morning, the foot uncurls and straightens. This causes the newly formed scar tissues to tear causing stress and strain on the fascia. This tearing causes intense pain in the first half of the day when one takes their early morning steps. And that is where plantar fasciitis braces and splints can help.
Plantar fasciitis splints and braces prevent the curling and slack position of the feet. They help maintain the foot at 90 degrees angle with the leg (dorsiflexion) thereby preventing scar tissues. This helps prevent heel pain caused in the early morning.
Can This Condition Go Away Naturally?
In some cases, Plantar Fasciitis does go away on its own, particularly when one loses weight. One can also do some stretching exercises and avoid excess running or walking to reduce the pain. Wearing proper shoes, and using shoe inserts can also alleviate plantar fasciitis naturally.
In case of injury-related fasciitis, one needs to use braces and splints in addition to physical therapy to see results.
Massaging the feet with gels and plantar fasciitis cream in addition to wearing night braces are some other home remedies to keep pain at bay.
Best Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis-Home Remedies That Work
Because there isn’t just one cause of plantar fasciitis, there is no single remedy for it. This means that you need to use different directions to treat this condition depending on the severity and also your body type, fitness levels, foot characteristics etc. Here are some steps to help you:
Make a Commitment
This includes the commitment to heal your feet. It also means daily exercise, use of braces and splints and in general, staying on target no matter how futile the effort might seem at first.
Reduce Wear and Tear on the Feet
While sitting all day can lead to this condition, too much exercise without adequate rest can also take a toll and worsen the condition. So ease off exercise and give your feet a break and a chance to heal first before you start training again.
Wear Protective Shoes
- The shoe should bend in the first half-not in the middle or near the heels.
- They should have a stiff heel counter.
- Feet change shape from time to time, so always ensure you wear properly fitting shoes. Make sure you replace your worn out shoes from time to time.
- Ensure that your shoes support the arch of your feet. People with high arch need more cushioning whereas those with low arch will benefit from rigid shoes with motion control design.
- Every shoe should also offer some room for movement.
- Ladies - do avoid high heels.
Never go Barefoot
Manoeuvring around barefoot will only increase the strain on the feet. So wear good shoes even indoors and use cushioning support in the shower as well.
Wear a Night Splint
Night splints (or plantar fasciitis sleeping boot) are comfortable devices which you wear while sleeping. You need to only slip into them and tether the splint with Velcro straps. As stated before, the splint keeps your feet at right angles to the leg and prevents the fascia from further deterioration.
This remedy is gentle and, over time, causes the fascia to return to its original length. Once this occurs, the fascia will be less stretched out causing lesser pain.
Use Hot and Cold Compresses
Icing the injured area can bring down the swelling and is one of the best home remedies to stop plantar pain. You can also use a hot compress. Dip a soft cloth in hot water and wring out the excess. Apply the compress on the feet.
You can also add a few drops of essential oils like Lavender or Wintergreen oil for their anti-inflammatory effects. Always ice the feet after walking, running or jogging etc.
Do Daily Stretching and Exercises
Stretch regularly at least once a day to heal from this injury. It is best to stretch first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Do not get too rough with your feet while stretching. Make sure to stretch and hold each position for at least 15 seconds.
Be consistent, gentle and patient. It is also important to stretch the calf muscles daily. This will keep the calves limber and prevent strain on the fascia. Likewise, stretching the arches of the feet and your hamstrings will make your fascia more flexible.
Use Foot Rollers
Foot rollers provide pain relief through soft tissue mobilization. There are many products available in the market for this purpose. You can freeze the roller before using it below painful heels. Simply roll the band for a few minutes daily to massage the foot and get a cooling relief.
Use Topical Analgesics
Topical analgesics provide cryotherapeutic relief. Much like an ice pack, the medicine penetrates deep inside the feet to give relief from muscular ache and joint pain. Later in this guide, I have reviewed Penetrex an anti-inflammatory cream that provides instant relief from heel pain.
Use Kinesiology Tape
Much like night braces or splints, these tapes can be wrapped around the aching heel and arch to provide relief all night long. Simply attach the tape at night; the tape will keep the foot straight and at 90 degree angle to the leg. This facilitates healing of the tendons.
Scientific Research on Night Splints for Plantar Fasciitis
Numerous studies have been conducted on night splints for this condition. These have all indicated that combined approach of conservative treatments provides the best outcome in treating heel pain.
- For example, in a randomised study to evaluate the efficacy of a dorsiflexion night splint, 15 patients assigned to a foot night splint treatment protocol were cured or found to have significant improvement in pain, plantar fascial tenderness and ankle range of motion in an average of 12.5 weeks. Upon conclusion of the study, it was determined that a tension night splint or heel brace, in conjunction with Ibuprofen, stretching and heel cushions, proved effective in treating plantar fasciitis.
- In another study performed by the University of Pittsburgh, three control groups of 30 persons each were set up to determine the efficacy of using either 1) only Night Splints, 2) using only Arch Supports, or 3) the use of both in treating plantar fasciitis. It was concluded that the use of both, a night splint and arch supports, might be a more effective treatment than the use of either individually as a sole treatment option.
- In a 2007 study, patients without previous treatment for plantar fasciitis obtained significant relief in heel pain from use of dorsal night splint incorporated with conservative heel pain treatment options.
I will now review 7 of the best plantar fasciitis sleeping boot and plantar fasciitis night splint products for treating heel pain.
Best Plantar Fasciitis Braces Splits and Boots
This posterior foot splint can be worn on either foot. If you have PF in both legs, you’d need two splints. It is not for daytime use-i.e. not for walking etc. Wear the splint at night only.
- It has helped many severe PF sufferers recover from this painful condition. Many are now able to walk normally now without any pain, after using the brace diligently at night.
- This brace is much more affordable than the braces and inserts sold by podiatrists
- It fits very comfortably and is extremely lightweight. The straps help you adjust and get the perfect fit. The plastic wedge under the sock is adjustable for greater stretch and varying fit.
- Easy to carry when travelling.
- Very easy to put on and adjust.
- Totally worth the money you spend, as expressed by many users.
- Causes numbness in the feet, but that is an indication that it is working.
- The splint might take a bit of getting used to; may be uncomfortable in the beginning.
- Does not come with instructions.
Cramer Dorsal Night Splint for Effective Relief From Plantar Fasciitis Pain, Arch Foot Pain, Slip Resistant Sleep Support, Comfortable Alternative to Posterior Splint for Plantar Fascia Relief
This dorsal night splint is available in 2 sizes - small and large. The Small size fits Men’s shoe sizes between 5-10 and women’s between 5 and 9.5. The Large one fits 10.5 to 16 for men and 10-16 for women.
- Unique ergonomic design; the small anterior dorsal clamshell design holds the foot in neutral position.
- Maximum comfort through proper fit, painless and minimum heat retention through the night.
- Fits both right and left feet
- Works for drop foot, posterior tibial tendonitis as well.
- Outer part is made of plastic which does not have rough edges and is well moulded. Internally, there is a fabric liner and comfortable foam fitting to keep your skin comfortable.
- Some people actually found these heel splints comfortable enough to walk in.
- Takes some adjustment and getting used to.
- For some people, there were sizing and fitting issues despite following the sizing chart.
- Men and women with small feet need to wear bulky socks underneath the splint to avoid the extra roominess.
- This night splint for heel pain is non-returnable.
StrictlyStability Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint w/ 2 Stretch Wedge Sizes and Foot Massage Ball (Medium)
This dorsiflexion splint comes in 4 different sizes and 2 removable wedges to provide relief from arch and heel pain.
- Can be worn on either foot.
- Buckles fasten with one push
- The wedges can be slid underneath the pad into the base to correct Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, runner’s cramps, tight calves and plantar fasciitis.
- Pain relief after just one night’s use.
- Although the splint can be worn on either foot, many users found it difficult to be worn on the right one as the straps were difficult to adjust.
- Might be a bit bulky and uncomfortable for some people
- May cause numbness and tingling
- Could be painful to sleep in.
Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint by Vive - Soft Medical Brace Boot for Heel Spurs, Foot Pain, Heel Pain, Achilles Inflammation & Soreness Relief
The foot splint for plantar fasciitis from VIVE has a rigid shell but soft comfortable lining. This allows you to use the splint with or without socks without any skin irritation. VIVE splint comes in 4 different sizes.
- Use the splint for Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, foot pain and inflammation caused by sports etc.
- The soft foam wedges elevate the feet to proper positioning.
- You also get a studded massage ball with the splint.
- The versatile, latex free design fits either foot and is suitable for men and women.
- VIVE splint does not cause skin irritation or blisters.
- Great customer service
- Works efficiently to prevent pain first thing in the morning as most PF sufferers experience.
- A common complaint from few users: “The Velcro snags sheets and heel does not stay in place”. This could be a fitting issue- the right fit would prevent these problems.
- Caused numbness and tingling in some people.
BraceAbility Sleeping Stretch Boot | Nighttime Foot Splint Treatment Brace with Adjustable Straps for Plantar Fascia, Achilles Tendon and Calf Stretching to Treat Heel and Arch Pain (Large)
This sleeping stretch boot is available in 3 different US-based sizes. It comes with a removable wedge and is useful for treating many foot injuries.
- You can use it on either foot.
- Useful for treating heel pain caused by tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Drop Foot, Calf muscle spasms, heel spurs and other lower leg injuries.
- Gives results in 4-5 weeks provided you wear it every night.
- There are 3 different sizes to choose from with the L size fitting size 13
- The slip-resistant sole also allows one to walk comfortably however; it is not a true walking boot.
- Prevents foot drop and Achilles tendonitis.
- Wedge compresses too easily not adding to the boot’s stretchability
- Difficult to put on and take off
- Fitting and adjustment issues experienced by some users.
Nice Stretch 90 Patented Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint with Cold Therapy and Non-Skid Sole, Large/XL
This is one of the few splints with a removable ice pack to reduce pain and numbness. The non-skid sole makes this splint easy to walk in for a limited period of time. BrownMed night splint offers a fixed angle support.
- One of the few posterior night splints that combine stretching with cold therapy to reduce inflammation.
- You can use it for treating Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, equinus, tight triceps, calf issues, drop feet etc.
- Available in 3 different sizes for men and women
- The ice is not too cold-it will leave your foot cool through the night. Combined with the 90-degree stretch, you will have no pain in the morning.
- Quite expensive compared to other splints
- Leaves toes numb and can be a bit uncomfortable. This is usually a matter of getting used to.
- Many people believed that it is a poorly, cheaply made splint.
The Flexibrace plantar fasciitis soft splint fits either foot and its extra soft padding is very comfortable. It also comes with adjustable Velcro straps and can fit either foot.
- Comes in 3 different sizes S, M or L all priced the same.
- It is very comfortable to sleep in-does not make the foot hot. Also, it is surprisingly lightweight.
- Plush and cushy this is the soft splint to buy if you hate braces with hard plastic.
- Gives instant relief from pain.
- The sock is non-washable as it cannot be removed and is sewn to the splint inside.
- Size and fitting issues were reported by some users-Too bulky or too loose are the common complaints.
- Poor returns policy.
Penetrex Pain Relief Cream
More than 20,000 users have used this product to treat heel pain related to plantar fasciitis! People are literally calling it “miracle in a jar”! The cream takes care of numbness and pain that comes with PF or with wearing a brace or night splint.
While Penetrex is not exactly a PF specific cream, it can be used for treating heel pain, Achilles tendonitis, tight calf muscles etc and other PF related issues. Use it on the heels along with the brace/splint and you will get complete relief.
- Has a nice minty smell without being too strong.
- Non-greasy-leaves your skin soft and pain free.
- Works very fast on arthritis related conditions-joint aches and pains, muscular tightness and so on.
- Treats many painful conditions including fibromyalgia
- PF sufferers have used this cream and actually hiked on the 8th day of use, pain free!
- No. 1 bestselling cream for pain.
- Does not have a cooling or heating effect.
- Did nothing for a few sufferers who had severe pain
- Quite expensive compared to other pain relief medication.
- Left itchy rashes on some people.
- Contains methylparaben.
People with plantar fasciitis experience severe pain in the morning upon taking their first few steps. This occurs due to the tightening of fascia during sleep. A good quality foot brace for plantar fasciitis holds the ankle and the foot in a position that keeps the tendon and fascia stretched.
This relieves the pain and with regular use, many people have been able to improve their quality of life considerably. I hope that the seven best plantar fasciitis brace reviews above help you make an informed choice.