Plantar fasciitis is a common and painful overuse injury. Runners who have the condition often feel it most prevalently first thing in the morning, with that first step out of bed.
You may be surprised to learn that, in addition to obesity, shoes with inadequate support can increase the chances of developing this painful condition. You can get a head start on avoiding it by choosing the right shoes. If you’re already struggling with it, choosing a shoe that supports your foot properly can relieve the pain.
The pain is caused when the thick layer of connective tissue on the bottom of the foot – the plantar fascia – becomes inflamed. When the heel bone strikes it, stabbing pain occurs. The pain is worst when you’ve been off your feet for a bit and tissue has the time to tighten up. In other words, keeping the plantar fascia loose is a key part of treatment.
If you often struggle with pain from plantar fasciitis, you can use a foot roller to ease it up and relieve the tension and inflammation.
Our first choice is the Pro-Tec Athletics Spiky Ball, which is firm and stimulating enough to provide a deep tissue massage and help improve circulation.
But we’ve found many other great options. Read on to see them all…
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Pro-Tec Athletics Spiky Ball
TriggerPoint Universal Massage Roller
LifePro Agility 4-Speed Vibrating Massage Ball
1. Pro-Tec Athletics Spiky Ball
This 3-inch ball may not seem like much, but it’s a useful tool for alleviating plantar fasciitis symptoms. It’s made from firm plastic and covered in small, blunt spikes.
Simply place the massage ball on the floor and lean your sore foot on it, pushing it down until you can feel the spikes beginning to reach the deep tissue. You can roll it around to different parts of your foot to stimulate the tissue as well as the blood flow. If you struggle with circulation problems, this ball can also help that.
Regular firm massaging of the plantar fascia can help to improve flexibility in the arch, as well as the midfoot and forefoot. You can push down on the ball as hard as is comfortable for you. You should find that pain is reduced and stiffness feels better after using it.
If you get a soft, squishy ball, it’s likely that the product is not legitimate. Be careful which suppliers you order from. Some individuals find that the firmness of the real product takes time to get used to and can be painful at first.
- Promotes flexibility in the arch, midfoot, and forefoot
- Firm and stimulating
- Provides deep tissue massage
- Improves circulation
- Some people may find that the hardness of this ball takes time to get used to
Top Double Massage Ball
2. TriggerPoint Universal Massage Roller
The unique ergonomic double design of this ball can help it to reach places that may be hard to get to with a single ball. It also has a textured surface that assists in stimulating circulation as you perform a deep tissue massage.
It’s made from very dense EVA foam, so even after multiple uses it should retain its shape very well and perform at the same high level. The 5-inch by 8-inch size is just enough to provide a stimulating massage and yet is still small enough to take with you in a gym bag.
It may not work as well on smaller muscles, but this double ball massager will also be good for the upper back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and even hips.
- Ergonomic design
- Textured surface
- EVA foam construction
- Relieves tension, tightness and pain
- Some people may find this roller to be too firm with not enough flexibility
- It doesn’t work as well for smaller muscles
Best Single Point Deep Tissue Massager
3. Pro-Tec Athletics The Orb Extreme Mini
Sometimes you just need a small, hard ball to pinpoint specific problem areas on your feet. That’s what the Pro-Tec Orb Mini does. It’s 3 inches in diameter and made of extra-firm foam, which makes it good for working one spot in depth.
The ball is covered in small bumps to provide some texture and help increase the efficacy of the massage. It’s also very safe, being latex-free and non-toxic, so almost anyone can use it to reduce muscle pains.
The small size is not only good for deep tissue massages on a very focused point, but it can also fit very easily into a bag, briefcase or pocket so you can take it anywhere you go. If you use it extensively and vigorously, it could lose its shape after a while.
- Single point release
- Reduces tightness and muscle fatigue
- Promotes flexibility
- Targets specific areas
- The ball may lose its shape after a few uses
Top Raised Tips Massager
4. TriggerPoint MobiPoint Massage Ball
This massage ball has differently-shaped studs than most others.
While others are usually pointed, this one has square-shaped tips that protrude from the body of the ball. It’s also smaller than most others, at 2 inches in diameter, and this can be great for stimulating specific points. But it can also be harder to control when it’s under your foot.
The small size makes it easy to carry with you so you can find relief whenever pain kicks in. Just a few minutes of deep massage with this ball will enhance flexibility and mobility, reduce pain, and stimulate blood flow.
It’s made of solid plastic that is hygienic, easy to clean, and lasts a long time. It is perfect for small areas like hands, feet, forearms, calves, and small, specific pain points. Underfoot is the perfect place to use it.
- Stimulates circulation and blood flow
- Enhances mobility
- Direct muscle compression
- Made from durable plastic
- This roller is 2 inches in diameter and some may find it too small to control effectively
Best Vibrating Massager
5. LifePro Agility 4-Speed Vibrating Massage Ball
Sometimes vibrations can help stimulate muscle fibers and bring on myofascial release, which aids in muscle recovery and repair. This product can be used as just a roller ball, or you can use it as a percussive massager to help you recover faster. For plantar fasciitis, it’s helpful to just roll it under your foot.
It has an easy to use one-touch on and off button, and one charge lasts between 2 and 4 hours depending on which intensity levels you choose. There are four to choose from, from 20 Hz to 60 Hz, so you can use the right level of firmness for however your muscles are feeling at the time.
You can easily target specific pain points and the raised nodes provide extra stimulation to the body, getting the blood flowing. It helps to break up knots and relax muscles quickly, without being painful.
The button can accidentally be pushed while rolling on this ball, which may result in the intensity increasing unintentionally or the massage ball turning off completely.
- Rechargeable battery with charger
- Lifetime warranty
- Targets pain directly
- Breaks up knots and relaxes tight muscles
- You may find that the power button or intensity button gets pushed accidentally while using this ball
Top Hot And Cold Therapy
6. Dr. Scholl’s Hot & Cold Massage Ball
Some people may find that heat helps their foot pain to improve, while others might feel that cold helps more. Whichever one you find to be best, you’ll get both with this ball.
You can fill the ball with either hot or cold water to provide therapy for your plantar fasciitis. You can even fill it and place it in the freezer if you prefer ice to just cold water, but you’ll need to handle it with care to make sure it doesn’t crack.
Using hot water helps to ease tense muscles while you’re massaging them. Cold water helps to decrease inflammation and improve circulation. You can use it on other parts of the body too, with either hot or cold water.
- Can be filled with either hot or cold water
- Sure-grip band
- Relieves tired and achy feet
- Relaxes the ligaments and tendons throughout the foot
- The ball could crack if filled with too much water and then put into the freezer
Best Wooden Massager
7. PRO-TEC Athletics Plantar Massage Balls
Wood is a great material for a massage ball, as it remains hard, never loses its shape, and is non-toxic and all-natural.
These balls are made from maple, and come in two different sizes (1-inch and 1.5-inch) so you can use whichever one feels best at the time. They come in a carry pouch as well.
They’re good for bringing relief from pain and tightness in the foot, helping to loosen up tension in the surrounding muscles as a result of plantar fasciitis, and stimulating blood flow to help the area heal quicker.
The two different sizes also help you to effectively massage any part of your foot, and they won’t break or soften. They could be too hard for someone with severe foot pain, and in some cases they may be too small for some individuals to handle easily.
- Promotes quicker healing
- Helps promote flexibility
- Different sized rollers
- Made from maple wood
- The size of the rollers could be too small for a person to control easily
Top Set (2 balls, 1 foot roller)
8. Tobrefe Foot Massager
You’ll get two spiky balls and a spiky foot roller in this set. The three massagers can work together to provide relief for your plantar fasciitis symptoms and pain.
The two balls are the same size, which doesn’t allow for variation on the foot, but they are about 3-inches in diameter so they can provide a good pinpoint massage for painful spots. The roller is 2.8 inches in diameter and 7 inches long.
The balls are very good for specific deep tissue massage in painful areas. But the roller is great for a more general massage, and you can push a little harder against the roller to get relief.
Both are made from durable PVC and TPR materials, so they’ll last a long time if taken care of.
- Made from durable TPR and PVC
- Versatile set
- Releases tight and knotted muscles
- Ball and the roller in one set allows you to diversify therapy
- Some people may find the roller and balls to be too hard and the balls too spikey to be used comfortably
- The two balls are the same size
Runner-up Set (1 ball, 2 foot rollers)
9. ChiFit Foot RollersName
If you prefer the roller to the balls, this set contains 2 rollers and one ball. It makes it very easy to massage both your feet at the same time, while you are sitting in front of the TV or reading a book.
The rollers are 6.6 inches in length, so most people’s feet will fit comfortably onto them. The wheels on the ends of the rollers are not textured, so if you’re using them on a smooth surface it may not have any grip and can get away from you easily.
Each roller has small, shallow nodules that provide a good stimulating massage that will improve circulation. The ball has slightly higher spikes that you can use if you have a specific area of pain that you want to work on more closely.
- Ergonomically designed arch
- Nodules help to stimulate blood flow and reduce pain
- With 2 rollers you can massage both your feet at the same time
- Improve foot flexibility
- The wheels of the rollers are not textured and can slip out from underneath your foot on hard or smooth surfaces
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common overuse injuries runners suffer. The plantar fascia is the ligament that connects your forefoot to your heel. It helps you walk, as it supports the arch of your foot. This thick ligament also acts as a shock absorber every time you take a step.
This ligament experiences a lot of wear and tear. If you spend a lot of time standing, or you’ve had a change of intensity in a workout, this could damage or tear the ligaments. Once the plantar fascia become inflamed, it can cause pain and stiffness in the heel. Commonly, the pain feels as if the bottom of your heels are bruised, and the pain tends to be at its worst when you first get back onto your feet. Your first few steps in the morning are where you’ll really feel it.
You could experience plantar fasciitis if you’ve had a previous foot injury, if the muscles are tight around the foot, or you have poor arch support.
How does a roller ball help plantar fasciitis?
When you massage your foot with a roller ball, you’re helping to loosen up the plantar fascia.
Verying the amount of pressure you put on the ball will fine-tune the therapy. Applying a lot of pressure will help give you a deeper massage. This can help to alleviate pain, stimulate blood circulation, and relax the plantar fascia, which will give you more flexibility.
What are other ways to treat and prevent plantar fasciitis?
You want to reduce the amount of stress that’s placed on the plantar fascia. By incorporating foot stretches and exercises into your morning or evening routines, you strengthen your feet, and strong feet are less likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
You can also take the following steps to prevent or treat plantar fasciitis:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t wear worn-out shoes
- Choose shoes that provide adequate support for your feet.
- Use an insert or heel cup
- Wear night-splints
- Make sure to give your feet space in the bed. You can untuck your sheets so that your feet won’t be pointing while you sleep.
You can also try plantar fasciitis taping, stretching your calves, or applying ice to the area to help treat and relieve the pain.
Can walking barefoot help plantar fasciitis?
Going barefoot can help restore your natural walking pattern or your gait, and you have better control of the position of your foot when it touches the ground. Walking barefoot can improve your balance and improve your awareness of how your body moves.
By going barefoot, you’ll find relief from shoes that hurt or don’t fit your feet properly. You’ll also improve the biomechanics of your foot, which will improve the biomechanics of your knees, hips, lower back, and core.
If don’t want to go completely barefoot you could always try barefoot wraps, which are heel seat wraps or sandals for plantar fasciitis that free your toes while supporting your heels