An ice bottle massage is a way to manage plantar fasciitis at home. Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that develops when the tough band of tissue on the bottom of your foot, called the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis may occur as a result of high heels, high arches, fallen arches, or repetitive strain on the foot.
The ice bottle massage works by alleviating the inflammation that contributes to foot pain and swelling. It allows you to ice the foot for an extended period of time while massaging taut and constricted tissues.
Managing Plantar Fasciitis
Before a treatment plan can be formulated, you should undergo a thorough examination by a doctor or physical therapist to determine the cause of your foot pain.
Even though the signs of plantar fasciitis are pretty self-evident, there are other foot conditions with similar symptoms, including a heel fracture, heel bursitis, or heel contusion. The correct diagnosis directs the correct treatment.
The treatment of plantar fasciitis typically involves:1
Medications (including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections)
Surgery is only considered in severe cases. Before medications and orthotics are considered, doctors will typically recommend conservative, non-drug therapies aimed at reducing the inflammation that drives the disease.1
Ice packs and cold compresses are an ideal way to do this. Also known as cold therapy, the application of ice reduces the blood flow to the affected area by shrinking blood vessels beneath the skin.
By doing so, the swelling decreases along with the inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, that spur inflammation. Icing the foot also numbs the nerve endings just below the skin, alleviating pain.
The problem with ice packs is that you either have to hold them to your foot or put them on the floor and rub your foot over them. Both work okay but can be awkward and cumbersome if you have to do it regularly.
An ice bottle massage is a simple yet smart solution that not only ices swollen tissues but gently stretches the plantar fascia.
Natural Approaches to Plantar Fasciitis
How To: Ice Bottle Massage
All you need to do an ice bottle massage is a discarded beverage bottle, some water, and a towel.
Choose a 12-ounce or 20-ounce disposable bottle that conforms to the curve of your foot. If your condition is especially severe, a 32-ounce bottle may work better. Anything larger will do little to stretch the constricted tissues.
To get started:
Fill the bottle 75% with tap water.
Put it in the freezer without the cap for several hours/overnight. (If the cap is on while the water freezes and expands, the bottle can contort.)
Once it's frozen solid, put the cap back on.
To perform the ice bottle massage:
Place a towel on the floor in front of a straight-back chair. (You're less able to maneuver your foot in a soft chair you can sink into.)
Lay the frozen water bottle on its side on the towel and sit in the chair.
Slowly roll your foot over the water bottle, using gentle pressure to massage the plantar fascia.
As you roll the bottle to the ball of your foot, lift your heel and give your inner sole a good, long stretch.
As you roll the bottle back to your heel, point your toe downward to stretch the top of your foot.
Continue for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. Never go longer than 20 minutes, as this can lead to frostbite.
Put the bottle back in the freezer until you need it again.
How to Use Ice Tape in Physical Therapy
Once the inflammation is under control, you can improve the flexibility of your foot by doing routine exercises.
The plantar fascia stretch and towel calf stretch are two simple yet effective ways to improve the flexibility and strength of not only the inner sole but the ankle and calf as well. After exercising, use an ice bottle massage to reduce inflammation.1
Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis
Poor foot position can also contribute to plantar fasciitis. Ask your physical therapist or podiatrist to do a foot and walking analysis.
By looking at your gait and the position of your foot, the therapist or doctor may be able to recommend the right orthotic to keep your foot in the correct position while walking, running, or standing.
Kinesiology tape can also be used to support the foot and reduce plantar fasciitis pain.
With regular stretching, strengthening, and icing, you can expect your symptoms to dissipate within six to eight weeks. Severe cases may take longer—up to a year or more.1
To prevent a recurrence, you need an exercise routine that engages the hips, lower back, thighs, knees, and ankles. By keeping the lower extremities strong and balanced, you can relieve the excess pressure on your foot and heel.
Swimming and cycling also help. Over time, routine exercise and orthotics can reduce or even reverse the symptoms of plantar fasciitis if you catch it early enough.2