Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a very, very common condition where there is inflammation and degeneration of the thick band of tissue that supports the sole of your foot. And orthotics are specific tools for plantar fasciitis are used to help relieve the tension and resultant inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis such as inserts, insoles, heel cups etc.

Common signs of plantar fasciitis

The most common tell-tale sign of plantar fasciitis is

  1. sharp pain in the base of the heel
  2. that is more painful in the morning or worse after a period of rest or inactivity (eg after watching a movie or after seated working for some time). Those first few steps can be terrible terrible but tends to ease off as the soft tissue stretches out after a couple of steps (but of course, it comes back again and again).

The most common causes of plantar fasciitis

  1. Poor foot mechanics when you walk or run in such a way that your heel and plantar fascia may be constantly hit or stretched
  2. Specific health conditions such as pregnancy, obesity, fallen/collapsed arches
  3. Muscle imbalance (weakness and tightness)
  4. Direct injury such as fall
  5. Etc

3 main types of orthothics for plantar fasciitis

  1. Heel Pads
  2. Shoe Insoles
  3. Night Splints

Heel cups / Heel pads

Heel cups are popular orthotics for plantar fasciitis and they work in two ways. 

  1. Firstly, heel cups lift the heel up slightly which reduces the tension on the Achilles tendon. This in turn, reduces the tension on the plantar fascia itself.
  2. Secondly, they provide cushion and shock absorption for the heel. This reduces strain and stress on the plantar fascia (particularly beneficial if you have also developed a bone spur on the heel)

One thing to note is that heel cups are the smallest and simplest of the orthotics for plantar fasciitis – this means that they can slip unnoticeably into the back of the shoe.

They’re typically made from a gel substance or plastic which absorbs shock as you walk or run. 

That being said, they’re still flexible / has an element of flexibility in them because of their shape and size, and this is more comfortable and preferred by most patients compared to the rigid long insoles.

You’d realize that there are lots of gel heel cups out there for plantar fasciitis. They slip into the back of your shoe and provide support and cushioning. Some are more effective than others so it is important to choose and well-respected brand.Here are some we thought were pretty decent.

Tuli’s Heel Cups

Tuli’s heel cups has a waffle style design heel cups that is made to better absorb shock, and at the same time, the multi-layered design provides flexibility by allowing them to move and rotate in the way your foot is designed to.

They stay in place well and come in three different sizes.

Tuli’s heel cups receive really good user reviews (4.3 out of 5). Users with plantar fasciitis say they notice the benefits of these almost immediately.

Dr Scholl’s Gel Heel Cups

Dr Scholl’s massaging gel heel cushions generally come out top in this category of orthotics for plantar fasciitis, with good average user rating. They come in a range of sizes.

Safety note: if you’re planning to use heel cups for your plantar fasciitis, please wear in both shoes to ensure that there is no difference in leg length. A difference in leg length due to heel cups can cause problems in the foot, knee and back. 

Shoe Insoles

Some people need more heel support than the support that heel cups provide, maybe they had tried the heel pads and the plantar fasciitis still comes and goes or persists. 

For these people they may consider the longer shoe insoles which can help to correct foot biomechanical problems by

  1. supporting the foot arches
  2. reducing the strain on the plantar fascia
  3. cushioning and support throughout the sole of the foot. 

Some shoe insoles are the full length of a shoe, others are mid-length of half way down. 

Full Length Inserts

These full length insoles, as their names imply, are as long as the length of your shoes. Because of that length:

  • they stay in place better
  • give better support

The most popular brand is Superfeet which receive an average user rating of 4.3/5…and what I like about them:

  • antimicrobial coating
  • deep heel cup and contoured shape to support foot biomechanics, making them good rothotics for plantar fasciitis.
  • there’s so many color options (hey this is a nice thing)

Lots of sizes and sold in pairs.

Half Length Insoles

These orthotics for plantar fasciitis fit inside the shoe, underneath the heel and arch of the foot, leaving the toes free to wiggle and flexible to move around. Feels freeing.

The most popular brand is Dr Scholl’s Pain Relief Orthotic which averages 4.4 stars out of 5.

They come in one pair a pack and claims to be clinically proven to relieve heel pain. Provides a combination of cushioning and arch support.

Night Splint Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis

Night splints are orthotics for plantar fasciitis that passively treat your plantar fascia as you rest and sleep.

How they work is that they hold the foot and toes back so that a gentle stretch is maintained on the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia all through the night. 

This means that when you wake up and step on the ground, there wont be the sharp pain that is commonly associated with plantar fasciitis.

Usually, we sleep with our feet pointing down making these structures more prone to tightening, so night splint orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great way combat to that. 

People often find that by using a night splint, they no longer suffer from sharp pain in their heels when they first get up in the morning as the foot has been stretched out, preventing further micro-tears developing in the tissues and instead, allowing them to heal.  They are a really simple, yet effective way to eliminate those first painful steps each day.

Two types of night splints for plantar fasciitis you can consider:

Plantar Fasciitis Posterior Night Splint – Medium

This plantar fascia night splint is more rigid, but it scores a good 4 stars of 5 out of 8500+ reviews. Other than the high review count, the plus point is that there is a double buckle so that you dont ever need to reach over in the middle of the night to struggle to buckle the splint (or wake up and find it somewhere else). It’d stay on and work to stretch out your plantar fascia.

Plantar Fasciitis Socks with Arch Support for Men & Women

This softer plantar fascia night splint is very popular (4.2 stars out of 5 across 12800+ reviews). Its a soft compressive version, and that’s why it’s more popular – it’s less firm compared to the rigid one, and you can easily carry it around with you by rolling it up and dropping it into your bags or suit case. It’s cheaper too. I recommned you try this (the softer one first) and if it’s not good enough, the rigid one.

Dr Scholl’s massaging gel heel cushions generally come out top in this category of orthotics for plantar fasciitis, with good average user rating. They come in a range of sizes.

Safety note: if you’re planning to use heel cups for your plantar fasciitis, please wear in both shoes to ensure that there is no difference in leg length. A difference in leg length due to heel cups can cause problems in the foot, knee and back. 

Shoe Insoles

Some people need more heel support than the support that heel cups provide, maybe they had tried the heel pads and the plantar fasciitis still comes and goes or persists. 

For these people they may consider the longer shoe insoles which can help to correct foot biomechanical problems by

  1. supporting the foot arches
  2. reducing the strain on the plantar fascia
  3. cushioning and support throughout the sole of the foot. 

Some shoe insoles are the full length of a shoe, others are mid-length of half way down. 

Full Length Inserts

These full length insoles, as their names imply, are as long as the length of your shoes. Because of that length:

  • they stay in place better
  • give better support

The most popular brand is Superfeet which receive an average user rating of 4.3/5…and what I like about them:

  • antimicrobial coating
  • deep heel cup and contoured shape to support foot biomechanics, making them good rothotics for plantar fasciitis.
  • there’s so many color options (hey this is a nice thing)

Lots of sizes and sold in pairs.

Half Length Insoles

These orthotics for plantar fasciitis fit inside the shoe, underneath the heel and arch of the foot, leaving the toes free to wiggle and flexible to move around. Feels freeing.

The most popular brand is Dr Scholl’s Pain Relief Orthotic which averages 4.4 stars out of 5.

They come in one pair a pack and claims to be clinically proven to relieve heel pain. Provides a combination of cushioning and arch support.

Night Splint Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis

Night splints are orthotics for plantar fasciitis that passively treat your plantar fascia as you rest and sleep.

How they work is that they hold the foot and toes back so that a gentle stretch is maintained on the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia all through the night. 

This means that when you wake up and step on the ground, there wont be the sharp pain that is commonly associated with plantar fasciitis.

Usually, we sleep with our feet pointing down making these structures more prone to tightening, so night splint orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great way combat to that. 

People often find that by using a night splint, they no longer suffer from sharp pain in their heels when they first get up in the morning as the foot has been stretched out, preventing further micro-tears developing in the tissues and instead, allowing them to heal.  They are a really simple, yet effective way to eliminate those first painful steps each day.

Two types of night splints for plantar fasciitis you can consider:

Plantar Fasciitis Posterior Night Splint – Medium

This plantar fascia night splint is more rigid, but it scores a good 4 stars of 5 out of 8500+ reviews. Other than the high review count, the plus point is that there is a double buckle so that you dont ever need to reach over in the middle of the night to struggle to buckle the splint (or wake up and find it somewhere else). It’d stay on and work to stretch out your plantar fascia.

Plantar Fasciitis Socks with Arch Support for Men & Women

This softer plantar fascia night splint is very popular (4.2 stars out of 5 across 12800+ reviews). Its a soft compressive version, and that’s why it’s more popular – it’s less firm compared to the rigid one, and you can easily carry it around with you by rolling it up and dropping it into your bags or suit case. It’s cheaper too. I recommned you try this (the softer one first) and if it’s not good enough, the rigid one.

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