When you take that first step out of bed in the morning, the last thing you want is to feel intense foot pain. However, sufferers of plantar fasciitis are all too familiar with the heel pain that strikes first thing in the morning and lasts throughout the day. Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that occurs when the ligament that connects your heel to your toes (called the plantar fascia) gets inflamed from micro tears. Fortunately, it's a self-treatable condition. Night splints help keep your foot flexed and the tissue stretched, so you can prevent further damage to the area and start healing it.
Read this shopping guide to learn how to find a night splint that's comfortable and effective. We've also included a few product recommendations, like our top pick by ProCare that has ample padding for comfort while holding the foot in a position to help reduce symptoms.
Considerations when choosing plantar fasciitis night splints
A night splint alone won't cure plantar fasciitis, but when used with other treatments like stretching, exercise, and icing, it can significantly decrease pain and inflammation.
Two types of splints are available to consumers: dorsal and boot splints.
Dorsal splints are made from hard materials like plastic or neoprene-coated aluminum. They attach over the shin and across the foot, and the straps attach at the ankle and the ball of the foot. Some include a sock with a toe strap that flexes the toes up.
Dorsal night splint types are less bulky and easier to walk in than boot splints. The downside is that they can slip, and some designs can cause a tingling sensation in the toes due to too much pressure on them.
Boot splints attach to the back of the leg with a stiff plastic spine that holds the foot at 90° (dorsal splints hold the foot between a 90° and 135° degree angle). Rigid support also runs under the foot, and two or three straps hold the boot in place. Because of their padding, boot splints can be bulkier than dorsal splints. They can also cause numbness or tingling in the toe area.
Size: Just like shoes or other footwear, a night splint that's the right size for your foot will reduce slipping and discomfort. The better the fit (snug to the heel and toe with a little wiggle room), the more effective the night splint will be.
Adjustable tension: This feature allows you to adjust the tension that stretches your foot. You can modify the tension depending on your flexibility and comfort level.
Padding: Padding adds comfort but not breathability to your night splint. While straps should be adequately padded so they don't cut into your skin, night splints that use a pad as a strap may be too hot for some wearers.
Mobility: This is desirable, especially if you frequent the bathroom at night. Dorsal splints leave the heel and arch of your foot exposed, making them easier to walk in. Some boot splints have non-slip soles to help prevent falls in the night.
Strap placement: This is important on all splint types, but it's more important for dorsal splints where the toe strap needs to be correctly placed to avoid slippage. Usually, the better the splint fits your foot, the more likely the straps are to stay in place.
Breathability: This is an essential feature, especially if you run warm when you sleep. Boot splints are less breathable than dorsal splints. We recommend selecting a boot with cutouts in order to give the foot ventilation.
Nights splints for plantar fasciitis start under $20 and can run up to $100. For $20 to $50, you can get a dorsal or boot night splint with features such as padding or adjustable tension. Splints between $50 and $100 may have better size options as well as improved padding and adjustable tension.
Q. What's a "sock style" dorsal night splint?
A. This the least-bulky option for plantar fasciitis -- even less so than a normal dorsal splint. It doesn't have a toe strap to pull up on the toes, either. If you're looking for an unobtrusive night splint, a sock-style splint is a good choice.
Q. How long do I need to wear a night splint to see results?
A. When worn consistently every night, you can expect to see improvement in your plantar fasciitis condition in several weeks or several months, depending on your particular case. Unfortunately, healing plantar fasciitis doesn't happen overnight.
Plantar fasciitis night splints we recommend
Best of the best: ProCare ProWedge Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
Our take: A boot-style night splint with three comfy straps to hold the foot securely in place.
What we like: Comes in three sizes, which you can wear on either foot. Ample padding. Foot is held in position without stressing it.
What we dislike: On the bulky side.
Best bang for your buck: Vive Plantar Fasciitis Splint
Our take: An inexpensive, fast-acting option for a boot-style night splint.
What we like: Delivers quick results from wear. Can be worn on either foot. Soft padding.
What we dislike: Strap buckles dig into skin for some users.
Our take: A rigid boot-style splint that offers secure wear and extra features.
What we like: Non-slip sole. Includes removable ice pack and toe lift. Rigid construction provides lots of support while also being comfortable to wear.
What we dislike: Some issues with straps, including short longevity.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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