Tips for traveling with plantar fasciitis

Posted By Allison on Oct 5, 2015


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I had no idea how common plantar fasciitis is until I got it myself about four years ago. Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition where the plantar fascia (ligament in your arch) is damaged, then tightens and causes stabbing heel pain. Travel often requires a lot of walking, so traveling with plantar fasciitis became a real challenge.

Most cases of plantar fasciitis are temporary, but mine is chronic. I’ve tried just about everything except surgery, and with ongoing therapy (mostly at home) my plantar fasciitis has improved enough that I can once again plan an all-day theme park, national park, or big city adventure without worrying about whether my feet are up for it.

I am not a medical professional, but these are the common sense remedies that have worked for me.

Tips for traveling with plantar fasciitis | tipsforfamilytrips.com

Photo credit: Pixabay

Good shoes

Even if you don’t have foot problems now, everyone in your family should wear comfortable, supportive shoes when you travel. Not only will a good pair of shoes help keep you on your feet all day, but they may prevent plantar fasciitis and other foot problems. I rarely go barefoot – even around my house – because supportive and comfortable shoes help minimize my plantar fasciitis.

“Comfortable and supportive” does not have to mean athletic shoes, though they are a good option. Good shoes are often not cheap shoes, but they can last for years. Dansko is one of my favorite brands. Birkenstock is back in style, and is a good option too.

I have high arches, so sometimes shoes alone do not provide enough support. My podiatrist recommended that I choose good quality arch support inserts from a specialty shoe store. You only need one or two of these because you can move them from shoe to shoe.

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Tips for traveling with plantar fasciitis | tipsforfamilytrips.com

Photo credit: Pixabay

The Big 3

If you suspect plantar fasciitis, some of the best treatments are easy, inexpensive and portable:

  • Stretching
  • Ice
  • Ibuprofen

Stretch several times each day to reduce plantar fasciitis pain. Flex your legs and feet before you get out of bed. Put both hands against a wall with one foot forward and one foot back to stretch your heel and calf muscles. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair and let your weight push your heels down. Sit on the edge of a low chair, tuck your heels back as far as you can and push down on your knees with your elbows. Bend over and touch your toes. Stretching your entire leg and doing exercises that strengthen your ankle and foot muscles help too.

Freeze a disposable water bottle and roll it under your foot for 15-30 minutes per day while you’re watching television, checking your email, etc. Or, take a reusable water bottle on your trip and fill it with ice from the hotel’s ice machine. It feels great and reduces swelling of the plantar fascia. Ibuprofen also helps reduce swelling and pain.

Tips for traveling with plantar fasciitis | tipsforfamilytrips.com

Photo credit: Jeff Blackler via Flickr

What didn’t work

I DO NOT recommend buying crazy contraptions via the internet. Different methods do work for different people, but there is a good chance that it will be a waste of money.

One friend suggested a particular type of arch support that helped her. It was rigid and came in three heights. The product claimed that my foot would adjust to the support, but in my opinion, a good shoe or support should feel good the first time you try it. These supports were too rigid and uncomfortable. This is when I decided to find a good podiatrist.

The first general practitioner I consulted recommended the Strassburg Sock, which holds the foot in a flexed position while you sleep, keeping the plantar fascia stretched. For me, it was uncomfortable, and did not help my plantar fasciitis at all. My podiatrist says that’s a common experience.

When to consult a doctor

If your plantar fasciitis is not significantly better after several weeks of consistent stretching, ice, ibuprofen and good shoes, you may want to consult a doctor. A good podiatrist can offer several additional treatments that may help. I’ve tried cortisone shots, Astym, physical therapy and injecting my own platelets into my foot (yes, I was desperate), and physical therapy was my favorite. Cortisone only worked once, and only for a few days. The platelet (PRP) injections did actually help, but I stretch daily to maintain the results.

Plantar fasciitis does not need to keep you from travel and favorite activities for long. I still feel it every day, but now it is more tightness than pain. I stretch often and use ice and ibuprofen as needed, so plantar fasciitis will hopefully never affect our travel plans again.

Do you have plantar fasciitis? If so, what works for you?

Tips for traveling with plantar fasciitis | tipsforfamilytrips.com

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Allison
Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.

16 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for posting about this! I have plantar fasciitis in the ball of one of my feet (got it 8 years ago when I was pregnant with my older son), and it makes being on my feet so uncomfortable. I have to wear certain shoes now (Birks have been my fave this season), but I will try the stretches you recommend.

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    • Thank you, Jenna. I too have to be very selective about my shoes. Stretching helps me a lot, and there are many good stretches and strengthening exercises to choose from. Good luck!

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  2. Thank you for such a valuable post. I had never given this any thought till my husband got a terrible case of it on our list trip. We had a particularly long walking day in Istanbul and his feet hurt him so badly the whole trip. We always wear very supportive shoes – usually low hiking shoes and inserts like super feet so we were really surprised when we got home and saw the pediatrist and found out this was the problem.

    The ice in the water bottle is brilliant! Thanks for sharing! We are ALL over that now!! If you would like to do a guest post on this topic for my website http://www.theeducationaltourist.com please let me know. This is valuable!!

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    • Thank you so much! It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, and I’m glad I could offer one more. Hopefully, your husband’s plantar fasciitis improves before long. Thank you for the guest post offer. I’ve got a lot going on right now, but will certainly consider it.

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  3. Great tips! I have had plantar fasciitis for the last year or so as well and it’s very inconvenient when travelling. I saw a chiropodist last year and he treated my foot with laser (or magnetic) therapy and it worked quite well for awhile but I feel like it’s starting to come back and I need some follow up treatment. I’m going to try that frozen water bottle – hadn’t heard of that one before!

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  4. How difficult this would be. So much travel involves being on your feet. Glad to share these tips.

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  5. I’m dealing with a tear in my plantar fascia right now and the doctor recommending a certain taping method called a Low Dye Strap. You have to use zonas tape (it doesn’t stretch) but it’s super easy to do on yourself and has helped me out immensely.

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  6. I’m not a big runner but ever since I started running and hearing about people getting plantar fasciitis I’ve been worried about that happening to me. I’m sorry you have to deal with this but thanks for the tips on how to still stay active.

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  7. I have had plantar fasciitis and it suuuucks! Flat shoes actually seem to work best for me. Shoes with a high arch support (even though the shoe stores tell me I have high arches) are what led to my bout of pf.

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  8. i roll a baseball or tennis ball under my arch, which helps to stretch it and relieve the PF. Yoga helps to stretch the calves and achilles tendon. And I am much more comfortable in shoe where my heels are higher than my toes by an inch or so. A lot of sport sandals are very flat and walking a lot in Merrells killed my heels — to my surprise.

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    • The tennis ball and yoga are something I would try, and they are portable. Finding the right shoes seems to be a different experience for everyone. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  9. Very help full tips! for the person who is suffering from plantar fasciitis and need to travel and walk a long way.

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