There are several options when considering massage therapy for plantar fasciitis. In the article Anyone Can Do This! Foot Massage with a Ball, several types of balls were suggested as a rolling device to massage the plantar fascia tissue.
Mentioned briefly, but not discussed in detail, was the use of a water bottle filled with water as a rolling device.
Water Bottle Foot Massage
This type of home treatment for plantar fasciitis can be a very practical tool to relieve tired, sore feet. It is a wonderful treatment that helps relieve pressure and tension at the end of the day. For a quick view of this type of massage, watch the following 41-second video created by Heel that Pain called Water Bottle Stretch:
The exercise is very simple. Either sit in a chair with your feet on the ground in front of you or stand up to do this exercise. Lift one foot and place the water bottle on the ground beneath the arch of your foot. Slowly roll the bottle back and forth from the ball of your foot to your heel and back.
Roll the bottle back and forth ten times. Then repeat the exercise on your other foot.
Do not hurry this exercise. Be sure to roll slowly for the most effective massage. It should be soothing to your feet, not painful.
If you so desire, you can lean forward and apply additional pressure to increase the strength of the massage. Be careful, though! If you are suffering with plantar fasciitis or some other injury to the bottom of your foot, do not put too much pressure on the painful areas of your plantar fascia.
Control Inflammation with Ice
There is flexibility with a water bottle that goes beyond the capabilities of other devices. Specifically, the water in the bottle can be warmed or frozen to provide additional massage characteristics beyond strictly massaging the bottom of your feet.
When plantar fasciitis first flares up, it is not uncommon to have some inflammation in the area of pain. That is simply one of your body’s mechanisms to fight off the injury. If the area of your foot around the injury is hot or even warm, that is usually an indication of inflammation.
Controlling the inflammatory process with ice is one step in the recommended initial management (RICE method) of that type of injury.
There are, of course, multiple ways to ice your foot.
For example, you can freeze some water in a paper cup and then rub it over the bottom of your foot. Simply tear off the sides of the paper cup as the ice melts, thus exposing more of the ice. A 5-7 minute ice massage in the morning and following activity could be very helpful.
Another method is to place your foot on an ice pack or a frozen bag of vegetables for 5-10 minutes several times a day. Or you can simply place your foot into a bucket of icy water for a few minutes. Be careful to not over-do the icing, however.
Frozen Water Bottle Exercises
You can find several videos on the internet that utilize an ice water bottle to combine the gentle massage described previously with icing. Icing your foot can help remove the initial inflammation of plantar fasciitis and also reduce the pain in your plantar fascia tissue. In addition, the massage will help stretch out your fascia.
This is, of course, one of many good exercises for plantar fasciitis. An excellent example video is this 3½ minute video by Oscar Sanchez entitled Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms – Water Bottle Stretches.
A good example video is this 3½ minute video by Oscar Sanchez entitled Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms – Water Bottle Stretches.
To prepare a plastic water bottle for use with this exercise, do the following:
- Remove any labels from the bottle.
- Fill your bottle about three quarters full, leaving air space at the top so the water has room to expand as it freezes. You don’t want to find an exploded water bottle in your freezer!
- Place the bottle in your freezer in a standing position, propped up if necessary, so it will not tip over. Do not put the cap on the bottle but make sure you save it.
- After a few hours, remove the frozen water bottle and put the cap on it.
You are now ready for the exercise. Perform this exercise for 5-10 minutes three or four times each day. After each use, be sure to put the water bottle back in your freezer.
Is There Really Value in Icing?
Are there nay-sayers as to the value of icing your foot in this manner? Of course there are!
With every type of treatment for plantar fasciitis, you will also find those who say it does not work. This is due to the fact that our bodies all react differently and also because heel pain may be caused by many different things.
Check out The Frozen Water Bottle Myth article by tennis pro Brent Abel. He claims that icing your fascia when it really isn’t inflamed, or because it is injured on only a small portion of the fascia, may result in the opposite outcome from what you had planned.
While he recognizes the value of a massage to stretch the tiny arch muscles, he claims that icing the foot may cause the muscles to shorten, thus increasing the chance of pain and/or injury.
Of course, he also wants you to buy into his system, so consider both sides of this opinion. It is your foot and your injury. Do what is best for you!
Adding Heat to Soothe Your Feet
An exercise that could logically follow a time of icing your plantar fascia would be to use heat once the inflammation has subsided and your pain is basically gone. Again, a water bottle can be used. Instead of freezing it, however, put hot water in the bottle and roll your foot over it.
This feels especially great when your feet are cold. It also helps massage the tissues in your foot and increases the circulation to those tissues, something that assists the healing process.
When nothing else seems to be working it might be worthwhile to alternate heat and cold. Do this in 5-10 minute intervals. Your circulation should quickly increase after doing this several times.
Feedback and Questions
Have you tried a water bottle massage technique in the past? Did it help? Perhaps you want to try this for the first time and let us know how it felt.
Please share your opinions and thoughts on this simple exercise.