Compression, arch support and insoles
Overpronation or flat feet can contribute to plantar fasciitis
I've always had terrible overpronation in both feet and as a child and teen I wore surgical inserts in my shoes to try to correct it. Of course, that all went out the window as a young adult! Overpronation is when your foot rolls inwards, onto the arch of the foot, when you walk. It is sometimes called flat feet but often you have a perfectly good foot arch, it's just that the rolling motion makes it appear otherwise. It's often quite visible to somebody standing behind you, and you can see the effects of it on your shoes. Overpronation is seen as a risk factor for plantar fasciitis although plenty of people with PI don't overpronate.
Good arch support has benefits for plantar fasciitis whether or not you are flat footed!
One of the contributing factors to the pain of PF is that the plantar fascia can tighten and shorten at times when you aren't actively stretching it by moving around on your feet - such as when you're asleep or sitting down for a long period. When you get up after these periods of time you may find the pain is at its worst, because you are stretching the plantar fascia out from its tightest position. Providing your foot arch with some support or stretching at all times, including downtime, can help enormously with those first horribly painful steps in the morning.
For me, compression arch support was a revelation - I went from pain in the morning of 10/10 down to 2/10.
Compression arch support is done with special elasticated socks or bandages which apply pressure around the highest part of your foot arch. The pressure isn't extreme, it is just enough to add a little stretch into the plantar fascia. I personally prefer compression support to wearing arch inserts, because for me it is easier to switch between different shoes (I often go from slippers to work shoes, to gym shoes, to wellies in the space of a day) and I can keep the support on all the time. However, the socks can be a bit tricky to get on if you have limited mobility or strength in your hands, because they are tight!
Some compression products to try
All the items below are linked to the correct page on Amazon, so feel free to click straight through.
These are great - this is the brand that I use. I wear them pretty much all the time when I'm not in the shower so I have 5 pairs. Make sure you get the right size for your foot diameter.
In my experience these aren't as good as the Rymora but this is probably the 'best cheapest' compression sock, with 6 pairs for around £12.
I have not tried this but it looks amazing value and the reviews are great. It gives you a number of different products in a single pack, allowing you to see what works best for you and use them in combination.
While compression socks support your foot by squeezing it a bit, more traditional arch supports sit under the arch of your foot and support from below. Some PF sufferers prefer them if they find the feeling of compression unpleasant or have difficulty pulling the compression socks on. They are also better at stopping your foot from rolling inwards (if you overpronate) which has benefits to other parts of your legs.
Arch supports come in two main flavours: pads or insoles that go in your shoe, or supports that attach to your foot with a strap. There is a lot of variation within those categories, but shoe supports tend to be rated more highly and offer greater support. Basic soft supports that attach with a strap are easy to use but still have a tendency to slip from their position on your foot. They may not be supportive enough for people with bad plantar fasciitis or more than mild flat-footedness/overpronation.
Within shoe supports you can get gel insoles which are generally soft, and orthotic insoles which are a more medical-type product, which are normally more rigid and support the foot more fully. If you visit a podiatrist they may help you organise a custom-fit orthotic insole which will be made to fit your exact foot.
High performance insoles for sports and gym
If your budget extends to it then there are some great high performance insoles on the market - these are especially worth considering if you are active and regularly do sports and exercise. These naturally cost more but tend to be designed with considerations for high impact exercise in mind. They are generally more robust, deal with heat and sweat better, and offer more support and impact control.
The Enertor range is well-regarded and has a number of endorsements from sports people.
Great for sports / gym