Cold Therapy Products for Plantar Fasciitis
The range of products on the market for treating plantar fasciitis is extensive; however cold therapy products for plantar fasciitis are becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for the condition and for providing important pain relief. Cold therapy products work on two principles and provide low temperature and compression, which satisfy two of the elements of R.I.C.E therapy. RICE Therapy is a tried and tested technique for the treatment of muscle, tendon and ligament problems.
What is R.I.C.E Therapy?
R.I.C.E is an acronym which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and R.I.C.E therapy is one of the best primary treatment methods for a wide range of sports and exercise injuries to soft tissues. It is recommended by doctors and sports therapists for muscle sprains, ligament strains, pulled muscles, inversion sprains and tendon strains, and can be highly effective for the treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Any soft tissue injuries can benefit from Rest, as this allows the body time to heal. With plantar fasciitis, simply keeping the weight off the feet and stopping an exercise regimen may ensure that further damage is not done to the plantar fascia; however since the condition can take many months to heal properly it is naturally not a practical solution to stop using the feet entirely. Besides, when at rest, the plantar fascia contracts and when steps are taken after a period of rest, the sudden stretching of the plantar fascia can trigger intense pain in the heel. Stretching exercises – or devices which keep the plantar fascia stretched – are highly beneficial, and when used alongside RICE or cold therapy can be extremely effective. Keeping the plantar fascia in a stretched state means that when steps have to be taken, the ligament is limbered up and ready to work, which can prevent pain from sudden stretching.
Ice targets pain, inflammation and swelling (edema), and when Compression and Elevation are also utilized, the effect is increased. Swelling is the accumulation of fluid in an area where soft tissue damage has occurred due to the release of bodily fluids from damaged cells, blood and lymph vessels. The localized accumulation of these fluids cases pain. Ice, compression and elevation all serve to limit fluid loss from damaged tissues.
How Does Cold Therapy Work?
Cold helps to numb the affected area to give good pain relief, and cold acts as a vasoconstrictor. This means it causes the blood supply to be diverted to the core rather than the extremities by the narrowing of the blood vessels in the extremities. Cold also slows down the metabolic rate, and helps with the transport of lactic acid away from the muscles (lactic acid build up causes muscle cramps). Products which provide both cold and compression are the most effective for the treatment of muscle, tendon and ligament problems.
Cold Therapy Products for Plantar Fasciitis
It does not matter how the cold is applied to get pain relief; however it does have a bearing on how effective this treatment will be. For example, holding a bag of frozen peas on the sole of the foot will deliver the cold; however it will not provide much in the way of compression. An ice pack or bag of ice cubes can be used, but it is not particularly practical for cold therapy for plantar fasciitis. To deliver cold and compression and avoiding having to mop up after the ice melts, the best choice of cold therapy products for plantar fasciitis are ice or cold wraps. These can be strapped onto the foot to deliver cold therapy and compression at the same time. When this happens, the cold penetrates further into the tissues rather than just cooling the skin. The application of ice can cause damage if the skin is cooled too much (cryoburning), therefore ice applied directly on the skin is unwise. Cold therapy products for plantar fasciitis are a much safer option, as ice or cold is not intense enough to cause problems with the skin, yet the cold is sufficient to provide considerable plantar pain relief.
Cold Wraps for Plantar Fasciitis
The best methods for the home application of cold therapy for plantar fasciitis are plantar fasciitis cold wraps which are constructed with ice gel packs. They can simply be placed in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then applied to the feet. They are usually sold with a Neoprene outer layer, with the gel contained in packets in the middle. The advantage of these plantar fasciitis cold wraps made from frozen gel is that they adopt the shape of the feet for maximum effect. The neoprene (material used in wetsuits) keeps the gel compressed against the foot, and protects the skin from damage from the frozen gel. When looking for a suitable plantar fasciitis wrap, make sure you get a model which covers the heel and extends down the length of the plantar fascia to the ball of the foot. It must cover the area where you are experiencing pain.
Although many of these plantar fasciitis cold wraps fit snugly on the feet and can be worn while walking, the best option is to rest the foot while you are administering this cold treatment. Plantar fasciitis wraps should be worn for around 20 minutes, so pop them in the freezer in the evening, apply them in the morning, leave them in the freezer all day, and repeat the treatment in the evening. Most of this style of wrap only requires around 2 hours in the freezer to get to the required temperature.
The Cryosphere Hot/Cold Foot Massager
If you want to apply cold therapy to your feet, and get a therapeutic foot massage at the same time you should check out the Cryosphere. This product was designed by a physical therapist to massage the soles of the feet, and to stretch the plantar fascia. However, you can place this device in the freezer and get the benefit of cold therapy at the same time, or run it under warm water to apply heat to your plantar fascia.
Simply get the Cryosphere to the desired temperature, place it on the floor and roll your foot over its knobbly surface. These knobbly bits help to give a more stimulating massage to your feet, and even if you do not have plantar fasciitis or it has been cured, the Cryosphere can still give a pleasant and revitalizing massage to breathe some life back into tired feet.
Find out more about the Cryosphere foot massager and how to use it on this link.