Plantar fasciitis is one of the common causes of pain among athletes, especially runners. This is due to the fact that runners run for long periods of time during training and competitions.
If you happen to have heel pain, it is best to consult a doctor so that you can be advised of the proper treatment. There are many treatment options, and one of them is wearing a plantar fasciitis night splint to make the pain go away.
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What is plantar fasciitis and what causes it?
Plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing pain in your foot, near the heel. It is usually felt when you take your first steps upon waking up. Sometimes, you can also feel it after long periods of standing or sitting. You feel pain because your plantar fascia, which is the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, gets strained. As a result, it gets weak, swollen, and inflamed, thus, causing pain.
There are several possible causes of a strained plantar fascia; it is more common among people between the ages of forty and sixty, but it can also be experienced by younger people who are exposed to different risk factors. Below are the other possible causes of plantar fasciitis:
- Exercise and physical activity — Activities which require you to place a lot of stress on your heels can contribute to plantar fasciitis. These activities include ballet dancing, jumping activities, and long-distance running; this is why it is runners who usually strain their plantar fascia.
- Obesity — Being overweight can also contribute to plantar fasciitis because the extra pounds can put extra stress on the feet.
- High arches or flat feet — Having high arches or being flat-footed can also cause plantar fasciitis, because it can affect the distribution of weight when you stand for a prolonged period of time.
- Wearing the wrong type of shoes — The shoes you wear can also affect your feet’s ligaments, especially if they do not fit well or they are already worn out. As a runner, it is important for you to wear the right pair of shoes in terms of your foot’s structure while considering the level of comfort.
Getting relief from plantar fasciitis
Treating plantar fasciitis may vary because not all treatments work the same for everyone. You can try many things to make the pain go away, or at least help your foot get better. You can rest your feet and avoid running on hard surfaces for a while. You can also apply cold compresses, take pain relievers, and stretch several times during the day, especially upon waking up in the morning.
Doctors also recommend wearing night splints for pain relief. During the day, you can do the other treatments, and make sure that you always wear a good pair of shoes. At night, it’s a good idea to wear a good splint or brace while you sit or as you sleep in bed.
Benefits of wearing night splints
The great thing about a night splint is that it can help treat your foot without requiring a lot of effort from you. You just need to wear it so that your ligaments will be prevented from further tightening during the night. As a result, you can wake up without feeling any soreness or stabbing pain in your foot.
The benefits of wearing night splints have been supported by several studies. One study compared two groups of patients who suffered from plantar fasciitis. One group was given conservative treatment such as ibuprofen, heel cushions for their shoes, and a stretching protocol, while the other group was given the same protocol, plus a posterior night splint. After weeks of observation, it was concluded that those who wore night splints had better chances of getting better than those who did not.
Choosing the best night splint for you
It is important that you choose a night splint which will be comfortable for you to wear. There are two types of night splints available: the dorsal splint and the boot splint.
The dorsal splint
The dorsal splint has a hard plastic support along the shin and on top of the foot but has nothing on the heel or the arch. It can keep your foot at a 90° angle while allowing your heel and arch to breathe. As a result, it can minimize the discomfort that you might feel when wearing it.
The dorsal splint is recommended for those who get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom because it allows you to be mobile.
While the dorsal splint is known for comfort, some say that there is a tendency for the foot to slip out of it while sleeping. For some, it also does not stretch the foot as much as the boot splint does.
The boot splint
The boot splint, as the name implies, is in the shape of a large boot; it is also known as the posterior night splint. It is bigger than a dorsal splint, as its spine runs down the leg and under the foot. It has been around longer and is more often recommended by doctors.
Basically, a boot splint is used to strap down your foot and stretches your plantar fascia while you sleep so that the condition doesn’t worsen.
However, because of its size, most people find it uncomfortable to sleep while wearing a boot splint. Some people experience numbness in their toes, but this can easily be relieved by adjusting the straps to take away some of the stretches, while making it more comfortable.
Both types of splints can help provide pain relief from plantar fasciitis. To help you decide, you can weigh in some factors, such as the level of comfort and the stretch that you want for your foot. If you are still not sure whether you should go for a dorsal or a boot type, you can discuss your options with a doctor for professional advice.
With the number of different night splints available on the market today, it can be difficult to choose which among them are worth considering. We have reviewed five of the top products to help you learn more about these products.
5 Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints
Plantar Fasciitis Posterior Night Splint by MARS Wellness
This boot-type night splint is intended to keep your ankle in a neutral position overnight. While you sleep, it stretches the calf and the plantar fascia so that you can wake up with less inflammation and pain.
- It is lightweight and has a low-profile shell, so this might be a good choice for those who prefer a boot splint rather than a dorsal but are concerned about comfort.
- Although this night splint stretches up to the leg area, MARS Wellness claims this splint to be comfortable and breathable.
- The padding of this night splint is covered in a washable Lycra material, so it also provides maximum comfort.
- This splint has three sturdy Velcro straps, which are great if you worry about your foot sliding out of the splint. With the help of the Velcro positioned on the shin, ankle, and foot, the straps of this night splint will hold your foot in place.
Things to be Aware Of
- One of the drawbacks of this Posterior Night Splint is that it is not recommended for those whose shoe size is smaller than 6 ½.
- Some find it to be too big and bulky, so if you have thin legs and small calves, and you are looking for something that will fit you well, you might want to look for other types of night splints.
Stability Ace Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint w/ 2 Stretch Wedge Sizes and Foot Massage Ball
This is another boot-type night splint designed to help relieve pain from plantar fasciitis. It has a lightweight design with padded buckles to ensure that your foot will be completely immobilized while you sleep.
- The Stability Ace night splint provides a soft and comfortable latex-free foam padding, which is ideal if you are looking for something comfortable.
- This night splint comes in four shoe sizes to cater to a wider market. It is available in small, medium, large, and extra large.
- It also comes with two removable stretch wedges of different sizes to help ease the pain on your foot by allowing it to do a gentle dorsiflexion.
- As an added bonus, this item also comes with a foot massage ball, which might also help alleviate the pain by improving blood circulation in your foot.
Things to be Aware Of
- It can be a bit challenging to get out of it and then put it back on, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom.
- It might take some time before you get fully used to it.
- The use of better clasps for practicality and convenience is a recommendation from previous users of the splint.
Plantar Fasciitis Splint by Vive – Hard Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
This night splint promises to provide relief to your foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis. It is made with premium cushioning to lessen any discomfort while you wear it. This might be a good choice if you have tried other night splints but found all of them uncomfortable.
- The Hard Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint by Vive has extra-soft padding throughout the interior, so your foot will be protected from any abrasions. This feature helps ensure maximum comfort even while you sleep.
- Aside from the soft padding, this night splint also features a padded foam wedge that helps relieve inflammation by elevating your foot and increasing comfort. The foam wedge is adjustable and removable.
- If you often get up at night, you will appreciate the fact that this night splint has easy-to-use buckle straps, which will allow you to get in and out of it without having to readjust all the time.
- This product has a sturdy plastic exterior, which makes it durable and reliable.
- It also uses extra-strength fastening material so you can always adjust the tightness of the splint without worrying that it will be easily worn out from wear and tear.
Things to be Aware Of
- As with other boot-type night splints, the downside of this product is its bulkiness.
- Because of the size, you might also find it uncomfortable to sleep in. However, if you can get past the discomfort and still be able to sleep well, you might feel the positive effects when you wake up and take your first steps in the morning.
ProCare ProWedge Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
The ProCare ProWedge night splint has a soft, padded, and contoured blue posterior shell. It provides passive dorsiflexion, which is a neutral position of the ankle, or a movement of the foot in a dorsal direction while keeping the knee in a slightly flexed position.
- It is designed in a way that it will keep your foot at a 90° angle to the shinbone.
- It has a toe wedge, which helps provide additional stretch on your plantar fascia; this can be key to getting rid of the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
- Due to its soft padding, it may be more comfortable than other night splints of the same type. As a result, you can wear it longer and heal faster.
- Your foot remains in place within the splint, because it is secured by three Velcro straps.
- This night splint might be a great choice if you like your things clean at all times because it has a removable liner that can be easily washed.
Things to be Aware Of
- It may not provide the same stretch as the other boot splints that we have reviewed. It may be comfortable, but this may be due to the fact that the stretch was compromised a little.
- It isn’t the most attractive night splint on the market.
Nice Stretch 90 Patented Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint with Cold Therapy and Non-Skid Sole
This night splint comes with a removable ice pack. The cold therapy offered by the ice pack can help soothe your aching foot, while also helping to reduce any swelling and inflammation.
- This might be a great choice if you use a cold compress on your foot whenever you feel pain. This night splint already has a built-in spot for it for your convenience.
- The removable toe lift is responsible for gently stretching your plantar fascia, as well as increasing the length of your ligaments.
- The mid-foot strap also provides a nice stretch to alleviate your pain.
- Like the other night splints that we have reviewed, the Nice Stretch 90 also provides a fixed-angle support and holds your foot at a 90° angle.
- It has a rigid and low-profile design, which allows it to support the flexion and gradually heal your plantar fascia.
- The adjustable bilateral straps are also a nice feature because they allow you to alter the fit to where you are most comfortable.
- If you need to get up during the night, you do not have to worry about slipping since it also features non-skid treads.
Things to be Aware Of
- Those who have wider feet might have some issues with the Nice Stretch 90, as it tends to be a bit narrow.
- It is also pricier compared to the others, and it may be because of the additional cold therapy feature.
The five-night splints that we have reviewed have one thing in common: they are all boot splints. They all have their own pros and cons, but if we choose the best, it would be the Nice Stretch 90 Patented Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint, because of the added feature of cold therapy. Cold therapy is a common remedy, which aids in pain relief, while alleviating swelling and inflammation.
Choosing the best plantar fasciitis night splint may involve trial and error because treatment and management can vary from one person to another. It is always better to weigh the important factors and features that you are looking for when choosing the best night splint for you.