Can Night Splints Make Plantar Fasciitis Worse?

Can night splints make plantar fasciitis worse? Dr. Angela Walk

Night splints are becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for plantar fasciitis. This prompted me to begin evaluating the effectiveness of wearing a night splint with my PF patients and to question, are night splints the solution for resolving plantar fasciitis or can night splints make plantar fasciitis worse?

Over several years of the assessing night splints as an application for treatment, my conclusion is that although It is true that night splints have been shown to decrease pain in the short term; this application does not have a significant effect on prevention or recurrences long term.

Biomechanically, it just doesn't make sense. With a plantar fascia injury, you have already elongated your plantar fascia and created trauma and microtears. You don't want to stretch it for an extended amount of time and further injure the area with a night splint. I will explain more about this later.

Now that you know that nights splints aren't the best remedy to resolve plantar fasciitis, let's answer some of the other questions you may have about night splints and other remedies that DO work.

Dr. Angela Walk

Wellness Physician

Founder of Nashville Organix

What Is A Night Splint?

A night splint is a device that is worn while a person sleeps to keep their foot held up in a position like you were walking on your heels. This position is called dorsiflexion and it stretches the calf and Achilles tendon at night.

Night splints prevent the overnight shortening of the calf muscles and plantar fascia while we sleep. During sleep, your feet naturally fall into a plantar-flexed position. This means the feet are pointing downwards.

This causes the calf muscles which are attached to the Achilles tendon to shorten and increases tension on the Achilles tendon which results in tightening of the plantar fascia overnight.

Many night splint wearers tend to have a love-hate relationship with their device. On one hand, you notice less pain with your first step in the morning, and on the other hand, it is quite difficult to get comfortable while sleeping.