Icing The Plantar Fascia LigamentChances are, you've heard that it's a smart idea to ice an injury, but have you ever wondered why icing works and how to do it the right way? This article should answer all of your questions about icing a sore heel or an injured plantar fascia ligament. Still have questions after you finish reading? Phone our patient support line at 877-215-3200 for a personal answer.
How Icing Injuries WorksWhen an injury occurs, the body rushes blood and fluids to the injury site. This is an important part of the healing process, but it can be accompanied by significant pain. With moderate use of ice, blood vessels can be temporarily constricted to slow down the flow and prevent the leakage of blood. At the same time, the cold has a numbing effect on the tissues, reducing nerve sensations of pain. You shouldn't ever over-ice an injury - this can lead to tissue damage, but appropriate use can minimize discomfort on a temporary basis.
Why Icing Is Recommended For Plantar FasciitisThe condition of Plantar Fasciitis revolves around injury to the elastic plantar fascia ligament that bridges the arch of your foot from heel to ball. In this condition, small tissue tears and inflammation commonly develop. Ice is used as a vehicle for bringing down inflammation and providing relief. The bottom of the heel is typically the most painful area of the foot in the condition of Plantar Fasciitis, but the arch may also be very sore. If you've developed this ailment, your goal must be to recover from it via a combination of rest, icing, heel stretching exercises and orthotic options such as Fascia-Bar treatments. Again, you should never over-use ice, but it can be very helpful in its ability to provide short-term relief until you have recovered.
The 'Don'ts' Of IcingDo not apply ice directly to your skin. It can cause frostbite. Be sure that ice is kept separate from your skin via a thin hand towel, washcloth, paper towels or other barrier. Do not apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time. If, while you are icing your feet or any other part of your body, you feel that you are losing sensation or experiencing a 'pins and needles' sensation, remove the ice. If feeling does not return or your skin fails to warm up within 45 minutes of the application of ice, contact your doctor. You may ice your feet more than once a day, but should allow at least an hour between the removal of the first ice pack and the application of a second one. If you have circulatory issues, ask your doctor before using ice.
Five Options For Icing The Plantar Fascia And HeelMost icing options cost just pennies or a couple of dollars for supplies. Some can be accomplished with what you already have on hand at home. Consider these options and experiment to find which one delivers the most relief for you.
Ice Cubes - Fill a towel or plastic bag with ice cubes and apply to the sore area of the foot. If using a sealable plastic bag, you can even add a little water to help the ice conform to the contours of your foot.
Frozen Vegetables - A bag of frozen corn or peas makes a great ice pack. You can re-use the bag as many times as you like, but be sure to label it as a medical device after the first use. Never eat vegetables or any other food that has thawed and been refrozen. It can cause food poisoning.
Store-Bought Ice Packs - Ice packs come in all shapes and sizes at the market. There are even gel packs that can be heated or frozen. These will cost a little more than using ice you make at home, but they are a good thing to have on hand for first aid in any household.
Paper Cups - If you're dealing with ongoing symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, a good tip is to fill paper cups with water and put them in the freezer. Then, when you want to ice your foot, simply peel the paper cup away and you'll have a nice cylinder of ice that fits well under the arch of your foot. The circular shape of the ice makes it a natural for a rolling massage action along the sole of the foot. This can be very soothing.
Water Bottle - Freeze a single serving water bottle and combine icing with stretching, as shown on our page of free heel stretching videos.