Night splints for plantar fasciitis are devices that are worn at night and fit over the foot, ankle, and the lower leg.
They are worn at night with the intended purpose of stretching the plantar fascia (the tendon that is attached to the heel of the foot, forms the arch and ends at the ball) and the calf muscle while you sleep, which is the time that your body heals itself.
The splints will give much needed relief from stress to the injured, swollen area but have a tendency to be cumbersome and limit lower leg movement while sleeping.
Night Splints have been compared to snowboarding boots and function by keeping the toes pointing up (dorsiflexion) rather than in a relaxed position. This keeps the plantar fascia from contracting and keeps it stretched.
The foot and ankle together are kept in a gentle stretch, this helps reduce the morning pain associated with the first steps and the application of body weight. What occurs at this point is referred to as over stretching.
The use of PF splints will eliminate the morning “overstretch,” and prolonging or incurring more damage can be avoided. I’ve had a few people email me and ask what are the best night splints for plantar fasciitis. My answer is it depends on what your needs are and your budget.
One thing to consider is that the splints do nothing for the reduction of pain associated with the stress of a normal day as they are worn only at night and can be very uncomfortable. This may result in loss of sleep due to lack of mobility.
Orthotic inserts or orthotics shoes should be considered for use during the work day or during exercise. If you want to go the way of the inserts (less support, but much cheaper), we recommend the Powerstep Pinnacle Orthotic Insert as the best buy (it’s got the best reviews by far).
If you want to go ahead and get a full blown pair of PF friendly shoes (the best option we say as you get the best arch and heel support giving your feet maximum comfort), then either go with New Balance Running Shoes or Birkenstock shoes.
PF splints can be cumbersome in another way as well, they cost around $100 each. Taking into account that they are hard to wear in bed, this is expensive.
However, recent studies show that eighty percent of those that used night splints for PF had reported significant improvement after wearing them for a period of time.
Wearing splints at night may be more beneficial to those who have suffered from PF for more than one year.
PF splints are more for the long haul treatment. They will provide needed relief to patients who have suffered with this condition for an extended period of time.
As mentioned, the splints should be used in conjunction with other orthotic aids during a day of normal activity. The main reason that people suffer for extended periods is that they tend to feel good in the morning only to re-injure the plantar fascia during the day. Over all, the expense and discomfort of the splints can be overlooked when considering the relief they bring.
How It can Help with your PF?
Using Tension To Heal PF
PF splints are products that gently flex the foot and toes overnight so people with PF can wake up and walk without pain. The splints come in a variety of styles giving the sufferer a number of options depending on the severity of their illness.
For PF sufferers night splints are one of the fastest non-surgical ways to get relief and return to an active lifestyle. Studies have shown that a very high percentage of patients recover completely after using splints at night for four to twelve weeks.
There are several types of splints people suffering with plantar fasciitis can choose from. One popular type is a passive splint.
This splint holds the foot and toes in a flexed position overnight, stretching the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia to relieve pain. Most models of the passive splint are made with removable, washable soft padded velour that won’t stick to your bedsheets. They are generally easy to adjust or remove.
Another type of PF splint is the model which allows the user to adjust the angle the Achilles tendon and the foot is flexed at. Some models allow between zero and ten degrees of dorsiflection.
This gives the sufferer some flexibility as to the amount of tension applied to force the foot to flex. Some models have ankle straps to hold the foot firmly but gently in place and side supports with openings to eliminate pressure on the heel and the Achilles tendon.
These are not for walking and the tension should not be set to ten degrees unless under a physician’s instruction. Most medical professionals recommend setting the tension to five degrees.
One model combines tension with cold therapy.
This model comes with a sealed movable icepack which can be placed anywhere on the foot requiring special attention. The combination of cold therapy and tension speeds the healing process. Some models even allow for a limited amount of walking with the splint on.
PF effects millions each year.
Much is being done to address this painful ailment. Plantar fasciitis night splints continue to improve by leaps and bounds. Today there are splints that combine air, ice, tension and light weight materials to assist the sufferer to sleep and move around with relative ease while working to heal their illness.