Want to know which plantar fasciitis arch support to buy? See your PridePlus Health podiatrist for your exact reccomendation and read on to learn more.
By now you’re probably an expert on all things plantar fasciitis after reading about what causes it and how to fix it. If you’re new to this then you can check out our comprehensive guide to plantar fasciitis treatment here.
In this post we will talk about plantar fasciitis arch support.
Arch supports for plantar fasciitis can come in a variety of shapes, materials, costs and sizes.
This makes finding the right one for your feet really tricky!
Considering that plantar fasciitis is a condition that can last > 5 years if not treated you want to make sure if you’re getting an arch support that is spot on for your feet.
Let’s quickly cover off the basics so we are all on the same page.
Plantar Fasciitis is…
A painful overloading condition of the heel where the plantar fascia (or plantar aponeurosis) becomes overworked and sore. It can be due to too much compression, too much tensile loading, too little capacity or a combination of all three.
Compression of the plantar fascia occurs when the heel twists during the weightbearing and propulsion phases of gait.
Tensile loading occurs when the arch lowers and pulls the plantar fascia from the heel to the toes.
Lower capacity occurs as a result of stress, medical conditions, medications and activities.
Arch Supports are…
Broadly speaking devices that sit inside shoes to push on the foot.
Usually an arch support is made from plastic, foam or 3D printed nylon. In the past they have been made of cork, steel and wood.
Us podiatrists prefer the term orthotic or orthosis to arch support – we do like to sound fancy!
An analogous way to think of it is that an orthotic vs. arch support is like comparing a tractor to a Tesla. Both are vehicles (arch supports) but one of them is specifically an electric car, designed for comfort and efficiency.
An orthotic is just this, designed for your comfort and your efficiency.
An arch support could be a very agricultural bit of material (tractor) knocked together without much time spent on considering comfort.
A True Podiatry Story
When hiking a few years back with some of the PridePlus Health team one of our hikers developed heel pain. Using what we had at our disposal in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness we put together an arch support using half a scourer, a piece of plastic from a drink bottle and sports tape.
All with the help of a trusty leatherman tool – never leave home without it.
This “arch support” wasn’t the most comfortable BUT it got our sore hiker through the hike without any more pain!
You can bet that now this hiker has moved towards using a custom foot orthotic now.
Plantar Fasciitis Arch Supports Work When…
You match the type of support you need to the type of device you use.
So, if your heel pain is due to too much tensile loading on your foot, an arch support for your plantar fasciitis will push on the inside of your foot to reduce the demand on the inside muscles which pull on your foot.
In turn, this reduces how much your arch lowers and pulls on the plantar fascia.
Voila – your heel pain will reduce.
If your plantar fascia is irritated near the high point of the arch support it can lead to more pain. You want your arch support to gently push near, but not on the most irritated area.
Now if your heel pain is due to too much compression of the plantar fascia you are often in need of some lateral (outside) arch support.
How these arch supports work is that they press gently down the outside border of the foot. The pressure starts from around the midfoot down towards the ball of the foot near the little toe.
This pushing reduces the amount of work needed to be done by the peroneal (outside calf) muscles and can reduce the twisting and compression of the plantar facsia during midstance and propulsion.
There are far fewer of these types of arch supports on the market, and while you can find a few differing “off the shelf” plantar fasciitis arch supports which press on the inside of the foot, you won’t find many that press on the outside.
So how do you know which plantar fasciitis arch support will work for you?
The way to know for sure is to book in with your PridePlus Health podiatrist for an assessment. In this consultation your podiatrist will give you the exact why and how your plantar fasciitis has developed. Also, if an arch support is needed – will make sure you get the right one.
If you’re miles from our clinics and looking around for something to try, you could do worse than grabbing a pair of Formthotic dual density arch supports. These New Zealand designed arch supports are often used in research. They’ve been found to be useful at reducing some plantar fasciitis related pain.
In Australia you have to buy these from a podiatrist but in the US and UK you can buy them from large retailers like Amazon.
What about shoes? Do they affect my plantar fasciitis arch support?
Great question and yes they do!
Your arch supports can only support, or push back on your foot as hard as a shoe will allow. So if your shoe is super flexible then when walking, the arch support will not be able to do all it can do for your foot.
Conversely, if your shoe is old and deformed and compressed on one side it might start pushing too much!
Getting the shoes right is really important which you can read about our post on the best shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Getting the right plantar fasciitis arch support is absolutely crucial for fast and long lasting relief from heel pain. You could trial and error the different kinds of arch supports available at the chemist. But getting an expert podiatrist to assess and prescribe will give you the best chance of getting pain free. Isn’t that what we all really want?
If you would like to learn more about custom made orthotics or arch supports you can read about them here.