What Is A Night Splint
The purpose of a night splint is to keep the plantar fascia in a stretched position to eliminate any pain that could be felt in the morning and throughout the day. The brace will attach to your leg in three individual spots–the foot, the ankle and the calf. Using these at night will eliminate the chance for proper healing during sleep. Lets explain why. When you injure your plantar fascia, it causes small tears along the length of the ligament causing it to elongate slightly. When sleeping your body works on healing these injuries and pulls the pieces back together. The pain that is felt during the first steps of the morning is the re-tearing of the ligament. Once the plantar fascia is re-stretched the pain stops. The pain doesn’t stop because the injury is healing, it’s stopped because the ligament has stretched out back to the original damage point. When a night splint is used, the plantar fascia never has a chance to heal, eliminating the first steps of the morning being painful. This is why plantar fasciitis sufferers think this is helping, but in fact it is impeding the ability to heal.
Why Do Podiatrists Still Recommend It?
If you repeat your mantra over and over, eventually it starts being believed as fact. It has been said with enough certainty enough times that night splints will heal your problems, so it has become one of the main recommendations for alleviating your plantar fasciitis. Think logically!
If you let all of the muscles in your leg and foot relax, what position is your foot going to be? It’s naturally going to be at almost a 180 degree angle. This will become the natural resting and healing position of your foot. This position there is no strain on the calf muscle, the Achilles tendon or the plantar fascia ligament. A night splint pushes your foot to rest at a 90 degree angle keeping your calf, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia in a stretched position. This won’t allow any healing to occur, and what healing does occur is going to heal improperly.
Why They Do More Harm Than Good!
When the plantar fascia is torn, the stretching that occurs is because of the injury. During the natural healing process your body is going to return the ligament back to the length it is supposed to be during prolonged periods of rest. If night splints are worn the healing process will still occur because that is what your body wants to do naturally, but because your plantar fascia is in a flexed position your body will heal at that length, creating slack on the plantar fascia when the foot returns to that 180* relaxed position. This will eventually over time create flat feet, as the support is no longer there for the arch of the foot. Having flat feet create a whole list of problems from a change in gait (the way a person walks) to having severe back pain.