Icing plantar fasciitis is a cheap and easy treatment for the inflammation in your plantar fascia ligament. My podiatrist recommended this and I don’t think I’ve ever read a plantar fasciitis treatment plan that did not include it. I found that it helped a lot at the beginning, when my pain and swelling were more constant and acute. But I’m also using it as a sort of maintenance tool, as my foot begins to feel better and I use it more. So on days I walk the 40 minutes home from work, I ice it when I get home, and when I hiked a few miles recently, I iced it right away when I got home.
When using any of the methods below, you want to avoid the risk of frostbite. So don’t let the ice come in direct contact with your skin with the methods used below, and don’t apply the ice for longer than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Basically, ice as soon as possible after exercise or standing for longer periods, or anything that is hard on your feet.
Personally, I prefer using an ice pack for icing. As soon as my heel pain got really bad and I realized I had plantar fasciitis, I started icing my foot at least a couple of times a day. I’m not a fan of being cold, but this helped so much with the pain and swelling that it actually felt good to do it. I freeze one of those reusable ice packs — mine is called Tech Pack, but you could use any ice pack. The Tech Pack has a thin paper cover, but to avoid over-cooling, I still cover it in a thin hand towel, or wear a sock, and rest my feet on it for 20 minutes. (In the photo we didn’t cover it, to show the ice pack better.) You can ice while you’re doing something else so it doesn’t feel burdensome. I usually ice my feet while on the computer. By the way, I ice both feet even though I seem to have the problem in my left foot, as a preventative measure.
Bag of frozen peas
Some people like to use a bag of frozen peas as an ice pack, and I tried this, but preferred my ice pack in the end, only because the ice pack has developed a general shape that sort of fits my foot at this point. Do what you like!
Frozen water bottle
One popular method is to roll your foot on a plastic water bottle full of frozen water, which gives you a double treatment of massage and icing. This sounds like such a great idea, but honestly this never worked for me. First of all, the bottle wouldn’t stay round when I froze water inside it, so it didn’t really “roll.” Also, I didn’t like any of the massage methods besides using my hand on my feet at the beginning, when they really hurt. It just hurt too much to roll anything on it. Now, when it doesn’t hurt much or at all on most days, I still don’t like the feeling of rolling a tennis ball or frozen bottle along my foot. But you should give this a try if you are inclined as a lot of people really like it and find it useful.
- When your plantar fascia is inflamed and painful, apply ice to the bottom of your feet for 15-20 minute periods, with an ice pack, bag of frozen peas or frozen water bottle. (Don’t put the ice directly on your skin.)
- Continue to ice your foot until your plantar fasciitis resolves, anytime that you might overuse your plantar fascia ligament, when exercising or standing for longer periods.