It’s the reason you dread getting out of bed in the morning. That first excruciating step out of bed… that feeling of a hot spike being driven through your heel. There is at least one way that has been documented previously by people like yourself and its through the use of a plantar fasciitis night splint. Morning stretches may only do so much for you, but the all night stretch that a splint offers has provided many people the relief they look for.
Of course, there is no real way to guarantee that a night splint will be the end-all treatment for your morning woes, but plenty of other people with plantar fasciitis have testified to its benefits in minimizing – or completely resolving – the worst step of the day! The idea is sound (keeping your fascia ligament stretched while you sleep), but finding out if it is the right solution for your heel pain can be real cumbersome. I mean, wearing a boot to sleep? How much more inconvenient could a therapy be? …but what if it worked.
Luckily, there are a number of people just like you who have found that by wearing a foot boot all night, they can get up in the mornings and progressively notice less pain over the following weeks.
Of course, you’d have to stick with the protocol, which may be tough.
Benefits Of Wearing A Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
The drawback to wearing a night splint, of course, is the cumbersome effect it may have on some people. It has been compared to wearing a snow boot to bed.
Those willing to stick out the protocol, however, open the potential to see definite improvements from their heel pain.
Different Types Of Night Splints
There are two primary types of splints for dealing with plantar fasciitis – the dorsal and the boot. The visible difference is that they are constructed on opposite sides of the foot.
The Dorsal splint has a hard plastic support that rides along the shin and top of the foot to keep the foot firmly in a 90-degree angle, while leaving the heel and arch free to breathe.
The Boot splint looks just as it sounds. The spine of the brace is on the back of the leg and calf and runs under the foot. It is generally a larger brace than the dorsal style.
Common Complaints With The DORSAL Brace
Design flaw causes foot slippage, thus not holding the stretch
Added pressure on the toes causes toes to tingle and/or fall asleep
Larger straps cause sweating
Common Complaints With The BOOT Brace
There does not seem to be a consensus on which type of brace is better, so you’ll have to determine which is more likely to be of benefit to you.
Group Studies And Statistics
Most statistical support for the treatment of plantar fasciitis seems to indicate that the use of a combined set of conservative treatments provides the best outcome in treating heel pain.
In a randomized study to evaluate the efficacy of a tension night splint, 15 patients assigned to a Night Splint treatment protocol were cured or found significant improvement to pain, plantar fascial tenderness and/or ankle range of motion in an average of 12.5 weeks. Upon conclusion of the study, it was determined that a tension night splint, in conjunction with Ibuprofen, stretching and heel cushions, proved effective in treating plantar fasciitis.
…15 patients assigned to a Night Splint treatment protocol were cured or found significant improvement to pain.
In another study performed by the University of Pittsburgh, three control groups of 30 persons each were set up to determine the efficacy of using either 1) only Night Splints, 2) using only Arch Supports, or 3) the use of both in treating plantar fasciitis. It was concluded that, the use of both, a night splint and arch supports, might be a more effective treatment than the use of either individually as a sole treatment option.
Most studies performed over the last 15 years have found similar, favorable reviews of the night splint as a treatment option – when used in conjunction with other orthotic support.
BEST PLANTAR FASCIITIS NIGHT SPLINT
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The Bird and Cronin Night Splint was designed to provide relief from the morning pains associated with plantar fasciitis. A lightweight design and slip-resistant sole adds to the benefit of keeping your foot stretched all night in a dorsiflexed position.
Pros: Relieves that “first step” morning pain – Soft padding to prevent irritation – Fits on both feet – Available in multiple sizes
Cons: Foot goes numb if strapped too tight – May be uncomfortable to sleep in – Difficult to move around in – May need to get one size up
Much like the Bird and Cronin, the Alpha Medical Night Splint for plantar fasciitis promises simple engineering that delivers results. Their lightweight profile, padded straps and foot breathability all provide convenience to an otherwise cumbersome sleep device. Keeping your fascia stretched and feeling relaxed first thing in the morning, however, is why this boot is just as promising as the Bird and Cronin.
Pros: Alleviates that morning pain – Comes with optional wedge for toe support – Comfortable padding with velcro straps – Multiple size options – Fits on both feet
Cons: Foot may go numb if not strapped correctly – May be uncomfortable to get used to – Design concerns that the middle strap may not lock firmly into place
Unlike boot braces, Futuro produces the less-bulky, dorsal-style brace for plantar fasciitis sufferers. Breathable, soft foam enhances comfort while also holding the foot in a 90-degree angle while you sleep or lounge around the house. Futuro also has an adjustable foot strap version.
Pros: Works to alleviate morning heel pain – Not as large as wearing a boot to bed – Easy on-and-off – Small enough for travel
Cons: Adjusting issues to get the right fit – May cut off circulation – Foot slippage in the brace – Takes getting used to
Like the Futuro, the Active Ankle Night Splint is a dorsal-style brace, which allows it more breathability and less bulk overall. It’s constructed to hold your foot in a neutral position and provide relief from that excruciating morning heel pain.
Pros: Works as specified – Sufficient cushioning – Non-irritating – Slightly more favorable reviews vs. the Futuro foot splint
Cons: Some adjustment needed to find the optimal fit – Foot can go to sleep if too tight – May slip at night – May not be for small feet
The Swede-O Deluxe is just as you might imagine it to be… deluxe! It’s a boot brace with plenty of padding to prevent irritability during sleep, yet has the full functionality that a posterior brace provides. Touted as the most comfortable splint on the market, you can see why just by looking at it.
Pros: Most comfortable plantar fasciitis boot – Effective in morning pain relief – Comes with optional foot-flex wedge
Cons: Large and bulky – Might have to size down – Takes time to get used to – Hard to walk in – Velcro wears quickly – Expensive
The Thermoskin Relief night splint is hailed as a more comfortable and user-friendly version of the larger boot brace and the equally-restricting dorsal brace. A softer profile gives this splint more of a sock feel as the material is less binding than hard plastic and pulls the toes up, much like the Strassburg Sock.
Pros: Less intrusive than a brace or larger sock for plantar fasciitis – Works in stretching fascia ligament – Small and easy to use
Cons: Material heat technology causes sweating – Pulls back on toes causing discomfort
Hopefully you’ve seen enough information that you can determine if you need a night splint for your plantar fasciitis pain. These are the best options according to people just like you and are most likely to work for people that 1) stick to the treatment protocol and, 2) combine it with orthotic insert use during daytime weight-bearing.
As you have seen, there is plenty of backing (group study and personal testimony) that support the benefit of using plantar fasciitis night splints for reducing heel pain, or getting rid of it altogether. It is one of the protocols that people do have trouble following, but if you feel that it could benefit you there are certainly testimonies that validate its use.
And if you’d still like to learn more, you can check out our infographic that explains exactly what is plantar fasciitis, the symptoms, treatment protocols that work and much more.