The best plantar fasciitis night splint is there to help you go through these tough times. Many people feel shock and disbelief when they find out that they developed plantar fasciitis and learn how long the condition can last before it finally heals. Nobody feels comfortable knowing that for the next three, six, twelve, or even eighteen months, they’ll be experiencing excruciating pain in the morning and uncomfortable throbbing after any kind of activity. Simply said, plantar fasciitis is boring, uncomfortable, and tiresome. Luckily, there are a couple of things you can do to speed up your recovery. Apart from regular massages, stretching, and icing, wearing a splint can dramatically reduce the pain you feel on a daily basis, and help your feet recover faster.
If you’re looking for a great model for yourself, you’re not sure whether this healing method is the right one for you, or you want to find out more about night splints and how to choose a good model, read on – we’ll answer all that and more.
Do Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints Really Work?
Night splints are a very commonly prescribed treatment for plantar fasciitis, especially in cases where the condition is mild to severe and expected to last more than a few weeks.
As a medical tool, there’s plenty of scientific research done on the effectiveness of night splints in relieving and recovering from plantar fasciitis. For example, a 2002 study showed that 75% of plantar fasciitis patients showed improvement after only one month wearing a night splint. Considering that many cases of plantar fasciitis last longer than a full year, this is a dramatic improvement in a surprisingly short amount of time, especially for a non-chemical, fully natural treatment.
So, if you have only recently had an injury that caused mild plantar fasciitis, chances are that your foot (or feet) can recover fairly quickly on its own with no medical tools. However, if you’ve suffered from heel pain for longer than a few months, you should consult your podiatrist or orthopedist about getting a night splint to speed up your recovery.
Best Night Splints For Plantar Fasciitis Comparison Chart
MARS WELLNESS Plantar Fasciitis Posterior Night Splint
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Vive Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Plus Trigger Point Spike Ball
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Ossur Formfit Night Splint with Slip-Resistant Tread for Plantar Fasciitis
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Soulern Elastic Dorsal Night Splint for Plantar Fasciitis
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Alpha Medical Plantar Fascitis Night Splint Heel & Foot Pain
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StrictlyStability Plantar Fasciitis Soft Night Splint Sock
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Procare ProWedge Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
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Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints Reviews
1. MARS WELLNESS Plantar Fasciitis Posterior Night Splint
If you’re looking for a reliable, high-quality boot night splint, we recommend this Mars Wellness model.
This boot model is sturdy and made out of high-quality materials that will keep your foot in place and plantar fascia stretched throughout the night. The back is made out of a stiff plastic material which is somewhat flexible at the heel, so you can reach a good amount of dorsiflexion by pulling on the diagonal strap. If your podiatrist recommended more flexion, you can insert the foam wedge that you get with this boot. The wedge won’t move overnight at all, as it has a Velcro system that keeps it in place. This night splint has a set of three padded straps that will keep your foot in place. The inside is lined with Lycra. As with other boot splints, you can wear this model on either your right or left foot, but the clasps are positioned on the right, which might make it difficult to set up on your right foot if you’re not flexible.
You can get this night splint in sizes XS to XL, with the smallest translating to women size 5 and the largest to men’s size 16.
- Three padded straps to keep your foot in place
- Lycra lined inside
- Not easy to fit on the right foot due to clasp placement
2. Vive Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Plus Trigger Point Spike Ball
Next up, we have a thickly padded boot night splint made by Vive.
This comfortable boot splint is easy to sleep in, especially because it doesn’t have a diagonal strap which makes sleeping on the side and even on your belly a viable option. The rigid shell is completely enveloped by thick padding and soft lining, so you don’t need to worry about rubbing your other leg on a hard material overnight. When it comes to holding your foot in place, this night splint does a good job, since you can fix your leg with three padded, wide straps that are fixed with a Velcro system. While you can’t flex the brace itself, you get two foam wedges to insert under your foot to give you a good amount of control over the amount of dorsiflexion. All parts of the splint are lined with a soft material, including the wedges. The downside is that once the fabric bunches up, it can become quite uncomfortable, which might be a side effect of thick padding.
The splint is available in sizes S, M, L, and XL, which translates to women’s sizes 6 to 14 (meaning XL is men’s size 12.5). Along with the night splint, you get a spiky ball that’s ideal for plantar fascia massage.
- Thick, comfy padding all around the brace
- Spiky foot massage ball as a bonus
- The largest available size translates to men’s size 12.5 (women’s size 14)
3. Ossur Formfit Night Splint with Slip-Resistant Tread for Plantar Fasciitis
Ossur has got a boot-style plantar fasciitis night brace for you called FormFit.
You don’t need to take this model off if you need to take a short trip, since the outer part of the sole comes with a slip-resistant tread, making it possible to take a few steps with the splint on. This night splint will hold your foot in a 90-degree position, or a bit less since you can only slightly tighten the diagonal straps to pull the foot up a bit. This model does not come with wedges for a bigger range of dorsiflexion adjustability, so consult your podiatrist about the ideal angle for your specific condition.
When it comes to keeping your foot nice and snug, this model comes with three padded, adjustable straps that will keep the brace in place. The clasps are on the right side, making this splint easy to put on the left foot, but somewhat more difficult on the right. The padding of the splint is soft and lined with Lycra.
This model comes in three sizes, S, M, and L, which translates to men’s sizes 6 through 12.
- Features slip-resistant tread, so you can take a few steps wearing the splint
- Lycra lined padding
- No wedges for better dorsiflexion adjustability
4. Soulern Elastic Dorsal Night Splint for Plantar Fasciitis
If you’re in search of a compact, comfy night splint, we recommend this dorsal model by Soulern.
This unique dorsal night splint has two forms of angle support which will keep your foot dorsiflexed. One is an aluminum bar which is slightly bendable between 90 and 85 degrees, and another is a strap that runs across your foot from the toes to the shin, which helps you adapt the angle. You get a high-quality foam pad to insert between the splint and your foot, which will make sure that the aluminum bar doesn’t get uncomfortable or press on your foot directly.
This model, due to its design, comes in a single size. You can use the straps to wrap the splint and adjust it to your foot. It can fit ankles with a circumference between 8 and 15 inches, so it fits most adults. However, if you wear a small shoe size, perhaps this splint won’t offer good stability since it’s supposed to pull at the ball of your foot.
The entire construction is made out of breathable, perforated material. Along with the splint, you get a spiky foot massage ball that’s perfect for plantar fasciitis.
- Compact and easy to wear, only wraps your foot as much as necessary
- Breathable perforated material
- Comes in one size – doesn’t fit big or small shoe sizes
5. Alpha Medical Plantar Fascitis Night Splint Heel & Foot Pain
Next up, we have a classic boot night splint made by Alpha Medical.
This brace comes with a lightweight, light grey plastic shell with openings to accommodate your muscles and enhance breathability. The shell has a low profile, so it’s possible to walk in, but it’s not recommended. At the bottom, there’s rubber lining which will prevent slipping. The outer shell can be slightly lifted with diagonal straps, and you can insert the wedge you get with the splint under your toes to adjust dorsiflexion.
The splint comes with sufficient padding made of dense foam, which is lined with Lycra. You can remove this inner padding and wash it by hand, and Lycra dries quickly, so you can just air-dry it and it will be ready to wear once again that night. The design features three padded straps that hold the splint fixed in place. The buckles of these straps are located on the right-hand side, which means that they’re located on the easy-to-reach inner side when you wear the splint on your left leg but are harder to reach as they’re on the outer side when wearing on your right leg.
- Low-profile, lightweight shell with rubber anti-slip outsoles
- Lycra-lined removable padding
- The straps are difficult to buckle up when wearing on the right leg
6. StrictlyStability Plantar Fasciitis Soft Night Splint Sock
If you aren’t sold on the idea of wearing a stiff, bulky plastic boot while sleeping, a sock night splint for plantar fasciitis might be the right pick for you that will let you rest throughout the night and wake up without pain in your foot.
The basis of this night splint is a compression sock that tightly hugs your calves. The dorsiflexion is provided by a set of diagonal straps which are sewn under your toes at the bottom, and right under your knees at the top. You have full control over the level of flexion with this model since you can adjust the straps. However, if you set it up too tightly, it’s likely your sock will start sliding down, so make sure the sock is snug, but the straps not over tightened. Instead of tightening the straps, you can also use a Velcro-secured wedge under your toes for better dorsiflexion without your sock sliding down.
There are four sizes of the sock available, from small to extra-large. The sizes are not measured in foot length with this model. Instead, you should measure the length of your shin, and get the right size based on that.
- Soft sock night splint without stiff, uncomfortable plastics to keep you awake at night
- Complete control over the level of dorsiflexion
- The sock can slide down your leg, and then it can’t provide a good stretch
7. Procare ProWedge Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
Padding isn’t everything, but if you’re looking for a model with as much soft padding as possible, take a look at ProWedge made by ProCare.
This boot night splint won’t scratch or rub your other leg, as is very common with splints that have a plastic shell. That’s because the shell of this splint is fully padded from all sides, protecting both your legs and keeping you as comfy as possible. Every part of the splint is padded and lined, and you can easily remove the lining from the stiff shell once it’s time for a wash.
This night splint will keep your foot at a 90-degree angle, and there’s no way to adjust flexion as it doesn’t come with additional wedges. But if 90 degrees is what you’re looking for, this is a great, comfy model to get. It comes with three wide, padded straps that will hold your foot in place using Velcro technology.
This model comes in four sizes, from small to extra-large. The smallest fits women’s sizes smaller than 6.5, and extra-large will fit men’s size 12 and larger.
- Very comfortable as it’s thickly padded
- Three thick, padded Velcro straps to keep your leg in place
- Holds your foot at a 90-degree angle – not adjustable
What Are Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints?
Sleeping is amazing: while we sleep, our bodies and minds recover and regenerate. When you deal with a health condition or injury, your body heals at nighttime. However, it’s not easy for our bodies to deal with injuries all by themselves. Sometimes, a little bit of external support is needed to speed up the healing process. That’s exactly what a night splint does for a foot with plantar fasciitis.
1. Plantarflexion vs Dorsiflexion
If you, like most people, sleep with your feet pointed down, your plantar fascia is contracted overnight. This is called a plantarflexed position. Though this position is completely natural for a resting foot, it can be hard for your inflamed plantar fascia to deal with. In fact, if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’re probably familiar with the phenomenon called post-static dyskinesia – the sharp pain in your heel at the first couple of steps in the morning. This pain is caused by the long periods where your feet are pointing down, plantar fascia shortened as a result. The pain happens because your contracted, “asleep” plantar fascia suddenly has to adapt to a dorsiflexed position with the addition of your bodyweight and the shock from stepping on a hard floor. These factors cause micro-trauma to the ligament, making your plantar fasciitis worse and more painful by the day.
To avoid the pain that happens with your morning steps, and to speed up recovery, you need to keep your foot in what’s called a dorsiflexed position. In essence, dorsiflexion is the opposite of plantarflexion. When dorsiflexed, your foot is positioned in a similar way as when you’re standing or walking: at 90 degrees (or a bit less) to the shin.
2. Night Splints and Dorsiflexion
A night splint is a simple, rigid construction that holds your foot in the dorsiflexed position, not letting it point down as it naturally would while you sleep. The dorsiflexed position keeps your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon passively stretching overnight. This constant stretching promotes healing when you rest, and it helps you avoid the micro-trauma and morning pain.
Over time and with consistent use, night splint provides a consistent stretch that adds up, eventually reducing the stress inside plantar fascia and related muscles.
You should know right away that wearing a night splint can be stressful and uncomfortable. You may not be able to sleep in your favorite positions (especially if you’re a stomach sleeper), and your foot might feel too hot or itchy from the splint. However, wearing one will help your foot recover much faster than it would otherwise.
Types of Night Splints
There are two distinct types of night splints in wide use: boot (plantar) and dorsal night splints. Both of the two types are used to treat various foot conditions, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, foot drop, heel spurs, and other. While the construction of the two is different, they ultimately do the same job, so it’s completely up to you to choose the type of night splint that suits you best.
1. Boot Night Splint
Boot splints, also called plantar night splints are the traditional form of this medical tool. This type of brace envelops your calves and the bottom of your foot in a sturdy shell, usually made of plastic or fiberglass with soft, padded lining. Boot splints usually have a system of straps that hold your foot tight inside.
You can adjust the angle at which your foot is positioned in most boot splints by inserting one of the various size wedges between the hard outer shell and the inner padding. This holds your foot in the most comfortable position possible.
The issue with boot splints is that they’re almost impossible to walk in, and you can damage the splint if you put all of your weight on it. That’s why this type of splint is not recommended to people who tend to wake and get up at night.
2. Dorsal Night Splint
Dorsal night splints hold your foot in position from the opposite side compared to a boot splint. The main construction of a dorsal splint supports your foot along the top of the foot and the shin. Dorsal splints typically have adjustable straps with one end pulling on your toes and another attached to the shin.
They are made out of a big variety of materials, and they can be found in both stiff and soft versions which is alike to a sock, depending on your preference. While it may seem obvious that you should choose a soft dorsal splint, consider the fact that these often pull on your toes to create dorsal flexion, so they may become more uncomfortable with time compared to a stiff material one that offers equal pull everywhere.
A benefit of dorsal night splints is that it’s easier to walk in them, so if you tend to wake up at night for bathroom or snacks, you may want to get this type of night splint.
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Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints Buying Guide
The truth is – if you have plantar fasciitis, any type of a brace that holds your foot in place overnight will do. However, night splints can become very bothersome, and many people give up wearing them even before the end of the first night, despite the benefits. That’s why you should try to find a night splint that will be as comfy as possible, and there are various variables and features you should be on the lookout for.
The shell is the hard, outer part of a night splint. Boot splints typically have a stiff outer shell made out of fiberglass, some sort of plastic, or even plaster. Some have an adjustable angle, and some are set in position and adjusted by adding wedges – more on that a bit later.
Since the shell is made out of hard material, it’s the most uncomfortable yet the most crucial part of a night splint. You should look for shells which are made out of thin material, because that way, your leg won’t be lifted too much – but remember that you should never step on a thin night splint shell.
You should look for shells that are ventilated, which is usually done by perforating. Heat control has a big impact on the overall comfort overnight, so good breathability is key.
The shell of a dorsal night splint can either be made out of the same stiff materials, or completely out of textile with some support. Stiff materials offer better support, but naturally, the stiff construction is not the comfiest pick out there. While soft, sock-like shells of textile dorsal night splints feel heavenly at first, your foot can feel uncomfortable after a while in the same position, especially since these only pull at your toes from a single point. That’s why a hard shell splint is a great choice for wearing overnight, while a soft, textile splint is a great pick for wearing in your downtime during the day, for example when you sit for a couple of hours working, or enjoy your downtime lying down and watching a TV show.
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2. Soft Padding
Padding and lining are what make the hard outer shell of a night splint bearable. Padding is there to provide cushioning, while lining protects your skin and keeps it comfortable. The amount of padding you’d like to have on your night splint depends entirely on you – just like some people prefer sleeping on a hard, supportive bed, others love sinking into the mattress.
Padding is typically made out of some sort of foam. Durafoam, EVA, Luxafoam, Rolyan, and many other foams and other types of padding such as Sherpa or gel-based padding can be used for padding of medical splints. These are all at least slightly different in their specific properties and cushioning abilities, but you can generally tell how well-padded a night splint is by the thickness of parts.
The lining will keep your skin feeling good. If you’re prone to skin irritations and itching, this is particularly important. Natural, breathable materials like cotton are preferred, but you can also find great moisture-wicking and breathable synthetic textiles used as lining.
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All night splints come with two types of straps: one that holds the braced foot in the dorsiflexed position, and another that wraps the foot to keep the brace in place.
When it comes to the straps that hold your foot in position, you should always be on the lookout for adjustability. It’s simple – even if you get the right size, everybody’s foot is a bit different width and thickness. Having straps that can adapt to your foot will make sure that the splint feels nice and snug, and not too loose so that it moves out of place, nor too tight so your blood circulation gets obstructed. Typically, manufacturers opt for a Velcro (hook and loop) type of a tightening system, but some also opt for buckles, buttons, or another system.
4. Adjustable Flexion
In most cases, you can adjust flexion on your night splint in some way. Typically, podiatrists recommend flexion at an angle between 5 and 15 degrees dorsiflexed – or in other words, 85 to 75 degrees to the shin.
Dorsal night splints typically have an adjustable buckled strap that pulls on your fingers. By shortening or lengthening the strap, you control how flexed you want your foot.
It’s harder to control flexion in a boot night splint since the shells are usually made as one piece from a stiff material. That’s why boot splints typically apply a different solution: inserts. These inserts are made out of firm material, and they’re called wedges. They’re shaped very similarly to traditional door stoppers. They should be inserted under your toes, between the padding material and the shell of the splint. Typically, manufacturers include a couple of different height wedges so you can adjust the flexion to the most comfortable level.
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5. Good Sizing
You can’t just pick up the splint that your spouse wore last summer – unless you can fit in their jeans and shoes as well. In night splints, you need to take care of two dimensions: the foot length, and the calf/shin length. While foot length is obviously important for sizing, calf or shin length is also a huge factor when it comes to sleeping with a night splint on. Essentially, it can be very uncomfortable and even impossible to bend your leg at the knee if the shaft of the splint is too long. Furthermore, if you have thick calves, some rigid boot braces might be too tight for you, so they won’t fit properly.
Most night splints are sized in a relative system that’s similar to clothing: XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Luckily, almost all manufacturers also include a sizing chart where you can compare these relative sizes to true inch values or standardized shoe sizes. So grab your ruler, and measure the length of your foot from the edge of your heel to the longest toe.
Nearly all night splints are made universal so that they can be worn equally on the right or the left foot.
How to Wear Night Splint for Plantar Fasciitis?
There are several natural remedies for plantar fasciitis, and night splint is among the most successful treatments out there. But you shouldn’t expect that wearing a night splint is like resting your feet on clouds. In fact, it can be quite stressful and uncomfortable, especially after several hours at night. However, it’s important to persevere – the thing does work and it will make your foot recover much quicker!
When to Wear a Night Splint
The name of this medical brace can be deceiving – you should not, in fact, wear a night splint only at night. In fact, a better word choice for the brace would be “rest splint”. You should wear a night splint when you’ll be spending a couple of hours in a resting state. It doesn’t really matter whether that’s watching a TV show when unwinding in the evening, while you sit at your desk and work, or overnight as you sleep. If you’ll be resting and not moving or walking for a while – you should wear your night splint.
When you first get a night splint, it’s a good idea to get used to it gradually. Only wear it for an hour or two the first day, and then go a bit longer the second day, and finally try to go overnight with it on your third day. It’s important to give your foot some time to gradually get used to wearing the splint. The ideal time period to wear the splint is between 4 and 5 hours overnight, but it’s not an issue if you sleep through the night with it on.
You should expect to feel the first results after a week or longer, up to two months, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t help after the first night. Wear your night splint consistently, at least a few hours every day or night.
How to Put On a Night Splint
Putting on a dorsal night splint is very intuitive, but a boot splint can be a bit challenging. Here are instructions for putting on the more common, boot type night splint.
Unbuckle the splint, make sure the padding is placed correctly and put the splint on the floor while you’re sitting down on a chair. Step into the splint, and push your heel back as far as possible without causing you pain. Insert the wedge under your toes so that it’s placed between the shell and the padding – it should reach the ball of your foot or further. Adjust the straps and buckles so that your foot feels snug, but not too tight: you might not feel it if it’s too tight straight away, so you can re-adjust it later if necessary. If your night splint has an adjustable strap that changes flexion, pull your leg back so your shins are at an angle less than 90 degrees to the ground, and adjust the straps.
FAQ About Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints
1. How long should you wear a night splint?
How often and how long you need to wear a night splint is something you should discuss with your podiatrist. Chances are that they won’t be able to give you an exact number either. However, in general, night splints give the best results when worn every day or night for 4 or 5 hours at a time, over the course of 2 to 6 months. You should start noticing results after a few weeks.
2. Are there alternatives to wearing a night splint for plantar fasciitis?
There’s no alternative route that will give you all the benefits of a night splint. However, if you suffer from very bad heel pain with the first few steps you take in the morning, there’s a morning stretch that you should do while you’re still in bed, right as you wake up. Have a towel ready near your bed, so you can grab it without getting up. Place the towel over the ball of your foot, sit with your leg straight in front of you, and pull the towel so it stretches your foot into a dorsiflexed position. Hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure to keep your leg straight in front of you and don’t put your weight on the heel. This stretch emulates the stretching provided by a night splint, though only for a little bit of time. It will help you avoid piercing pain when you get out of bed.
3. How should I wash my night splint?
As you sleep, your body naturally sweats, which means that your night splint also gets dirty over time. Every now and then (ideally as often as you change your pillowcases), you should hand wash your night splint. Before you soak it, you should remove the padded liner from the shell of the splint if you can, and only wash the liner in water, using a rag and a multipurpose cleaning solution to wipe down the shell. If the padding is non-removable, soak the entire splint in a bowl of lukewarm water with a bit of mild laundry detergent. Let it soak for about 10 minutes, address any stains it may have, and gently press down on the padding so soapy water washes out the inside of the foam. Then, rinse under running tap water. Make sure to be gentle when squeezing water out so that you don’t wrap it out of shape. Let it air dry – don’t use any heat source to try to speed up the process, because it may destroy your padding.
A night splint is not the most comfortable contraption, but the results it gives when used to treat plantar fasciitis are tested and tried. A night splint is a passive stretcher for your foot, and it will not only make your first-morning step far less painful, but it will, in fact, make your injury heal at an accelerated rate. But since it’s not an easy thing to wear a medical brace on a daily basis for a few months, it’s important to maximize the comfort you get out of the splint you get for yourself. Only the best plantar fasciitis night splint can give you a great balance of comfort and support.
We hope you learned everything you wanted to know about night splints as a therapy for plantar fasciitis and choosing the right one for yourself. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!