Plantar Fasciitis – Treatment for the Pickleball Player

I have received many emails of players loving Justin’s post of both what is plantar fasciitis and its prevention, so finally here is part 3 – the treatment…  Keep yourself educated on your body so you can play pickleball forever!!  – Jennifer Lucore


Guest Post by Justin Rodger of Arizona:

My philosophy on treating injuries includes the premise that you should exhaust every conservative tool available before proceeding to more invasive methods(i.e. injections or surgery). Basic conservative home treatments for injuries are better remembered by using all or part of the acronym PRICE. Let’s apply it to plantar fasciitis.

P is for Protect the Injury.

There are splints available that can be placed on the foot at night to help keep the ligament in a lengthened position. This will prevent the ligament from becoming tight overnight.

R is for Rest the Injury.

Taking time off from the activities that stress the foot the most can help the damaged tissue to heal. The amount of rest time will vary from person to person. Mildly damaged tissue usually take a couple of weeks to heal. Moderately/severely damaged tissue can take several months to heal.

I is for Ice the Injury.

Icing is most effective after activity/exercise and at the end of the day. Rolling the bottom of your foot on a frozen bottle of water for 5-10 minutes works best. If you would rather rest your foot on an ice pack, then apply for 20-30 minutes with a thin barrier(pillowcase or thin kitchen towel) over it. If it does not feel very cold, then the treatment is not as effective. On a side note, heating(warm water or heating pad) a stiff and sore foot first thing in the morning is preferred over ice, to help loosen up the tissue.

frozen water bottle
C is for Compress the Injury.

If your foot/ankle become swollen, then compression socks/ace wrap help to reduce the swelling.

E is for Elevate the Injury.

Blood flow is improved to the foot by elevating the foot above the knee. It is not necessary to have your leg above your heart.

My over the counter drug of choice for reducing swelling/inflammation is ibuprofen, and acetaminophen for pain. Since my opinion is that it is more effective to treat the cause than the symptoms, I take more ibuprofen for injuries (as directed of course).

If conservative home treatment is not effective at ridding your plantar fasciitis, then you may need to consult a medical doctor. Your primary doctor may prescribe stronger medication, order physical therapy, or refer you to a podiatrist for further treatment needs and/or need for orthotics.

10 comments on “Plantar Fasciitis – Treatment for the Pickleball Player”

  1. Frozen water bottle doesn’t work. It’s an outdated approach. Why would you mix a contradictory therapies? Massage/mobility heats tissue, while cold therapy tightens. Would you do yoga in a walk in freezer? Obviously not. Most of these pickleball players are elderly and need to understand squats, deadlifts, maybe even kettlebell swings to strengthen and mobilize the hips.

    1. Jennifer Lucore

      Hello Dr. Pauley, this post was created in 2014 by Justin Rodgers a popular Physical Therapist and top player. Yes it works because I have used the water bottles before. No it’s not like yoga in a freezer, its cold onto a few inches of the foot. “Most players are elderly” not in these times, so happy to see the young pros doing great things and making a career out of pickleball. Enjoy your pickleball and helping people.

  2. I have gotten my first case of plantar fasciitis after playing almost year round for six years, I am 68 now. Since I wrote about plantar fasciitis several times while I was the walking editor at Prevention Magazine and I interviewed several well known podiatrists inimmediately stopped playing. Ironically my intense flair up came a couple of hours after getting the modern a vaccine, I have no idea if that is related but I could not out my foot down the rest of the day. It happened when I was wearing a less supportive sneaker and carried some pavers weighing about 10 to 15 pounds about 50 feet. About 5 trips.

    I iced and stretched and starting wearing my Birkenstock sandals when inside and slipping the, on every time invert out of bed or the recliner… even in the shower ( I have a waterproof pair) I took some aleve but try not ronif there is no pain …donut want to think I healed before I am. I am riding bike for exercise and doing restorative yoga. A new idea is that posts (hope flexor) exercises can really help and they seemed to really help me. I ordered a cryo ball so I can ice even if I’m out watching a pickleball match. It says cold for six hours and it not wet. I’m going to go the tiny gym we have here to strengthen my lower body to keep better alignment and protect my knees and ankles. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can make this weeks and not months to heal if I am vigilant now

  3. There is also surgery as an option albeit, a poor option. Success rate is around 40%, it can come back after surgery and worst of all, no PB for several months.

  4. Thanks for this article. After playing pickleball for 8 years, I was dismayed to develop a slight case recently. Frozen water bottle, curb stretching, and bumpy roller worked best.

  5. I am a sports podiatrist and this is probably the most common injury see in pickleball. There are other solutions available to patients including Laser, ESWT (shockwave therapy), and rarely surgery. Usually as you corrected pointed out it is a biomechanical issue and the patient usually responds to custom orthotics.

  6. Thanks Justin Rodgers for this article. I also completely agree on the effect of “RICE” on plantar fasciitis. In mild cases of plantar fasciitis “RICE” can totally remove the heel pain and also in case of severe plantar fasciitis “RICE” helps reduce the pain along with other treatments. These may seem silly, but plantar fasciitis conditions can be greatly improved at home by following these simple steps.

  7. Gregg Garthright

    Another effective treatment for plantar fascilitis is stretching. I put the ball of my foot on a curb or step, and gently stretch to loosen up the ligament.

  8. Hi Justin,

    Thanks for these great tips. I need to work more on the prevention of this, and this acronym is very helpful and will make it MUCH easier for me to remember! It is good to know that ibuprofen is the right thing to be taking for swelling…

    Thanks again!

  9. Great posting Justin. When I had that annoying plantar fasciitis, I wore a brace-type thing at night for a bit. “HATED IT!!” But in order to keep my foot somewhat in that stretched position, I started sleeping a little lower in my bed so I could hang my foot over the end! It actually helped a lot (as long as I was on my stomach!) and … it was free. That torture-sock I wore cost me $43. :-/

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