Top 10 Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints & Braces Reviewed
If you’ve been an avid runner for many years, you may have dealt with plantar fasciitis at one point or another. In fact, if you’re reading this article right now, you’re probably dealing with the pain as we speak. Or perhaps you have foot pain but aren’t sure of its cause and would like to do a little research before you see a doctor. Before we discuss the top 10 night splints, let’s take a look at what exactly is plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis is foot pain caused by the irritation of the ligament (plantar fascia) supporting one’s arch. If strained too much, the plantar fascia can tear and become weak, swollen, and inflamed. During the day, there are a few methods of treatment to ease the pain, such as rest, ice, stretches, and proper-fitting shoes. However, one easy way to alleviate pain first thing in the morning is to wear a night splint or brace.
In this article, we will discuss the top 10 night splints and braces for plantar fasciitis. A night splint is a brace worn on the foot that supports the foot, ankle, and lower leg while you sleep.
- Nice Stretch 90
- Quick release on/off
- Bird & Cronin
- Removable ice pack and toe lift
- AlphaBrace PF Night Splint
- anterior dorsal clamshell design
10 Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints
1. Nice Stretch 90
There are three Velcro straps that can be adjusted to your comfort AND there are locking straps on the top and middle straps to keep the Velcro in place. However, the ankle strap is poorly placed. It really cuts at the ankle. I ordered a different one that has a strap above and below the ankle hopefully making it more comfortable. Those are also adjustable. I only occasionally use the ice pack that comes with it, if I’ve had a painful day. The ice pack is not so cold that it’s uncomfortable, but it still stays cold long enough to feel relief. The only thing I will say is that it is a little bulky and it is sometimes a challenge to get your feet positioned comfortably.
The splint is light enough that I can do this sleeping on either side. Walking about when wearing the splint is not especially easy – I take it off every time I need to get out of bed. But I find it comfortable and I am able to walk, if only a short distance.
I also took the advice I read from others about sizing. I wear a shoe size 10 1/2. According to the sizing information, that means I should have a large. But, I got the medium, and it is perfect. It has a removable section which you can freeze if you want, or you can just take that part out. It also comes with an extra piece of Velcro in case you need it and I do because my calf is wider than most. I use it on the top section to give me a little more wiggle room.
This model is available in all sizes, for both men and women, plus it is also a cost effective alternative compared to most high end night splints.
2. Bird & Cronin
3. AlphaBrace PF Splint
4. Strictly Stability PF Night Splint
The splint has two wedges (that are both stretchable and removable) and a ball for a foot massage.
They can be worn on both feet and is very light with buckles that are padded for little mobility as you sleep.
- Lightweight design
- Aids in relieving foot and heel pain
- Padded buckles
- Some do not find this splint to fit well
5. PF Posterior by Surgical Medical
Straps can be loose because of their location on the brace.
Able to sleep comfortably at night while wearing the splint.
Known to be very effective.
- Tends to be uncomfortable and cumbersome to wear
- Poor designs of the straps.
- Must hold the fastener into the buckle when you cranking it down, or else the fastener might pop out.
The hard exterior combined with soft interior offers ample protection and support. The hard composite of the exterior allows for walking during the night without removing the brace. The padding of the interior is made from a breathable foam. The soft lining prevents skin irritation, abrasions, and blisters.
The brace is secured with three wide adjustable strap that are latex-free for sensitive skin. The material of the straps is made from a strong webbing. Additionally, the straps contain buckles so wearers do not have to readjust each night. This brace will fit both men and women as well as both the left and the right foot.
- Latex free, safe for sensitive skin
- Fits both feet and a variety of leg and foot sizes
- Straps contain snap buckles so that they do not have to be adjusted with each use
- Some reviews complained that the velcro straps lack durability
- Product is on the bulky side
7. AEXCare PF Day/Night Brace
AEXCare dorsal foot night splint is more comfortable and less bulky than boot style braces, yet serves the same function.
Convenient and practical foot support that works by a bendable aluminum strip at the instep position.
The foot and ankle straps are completely adjustable, long enough to wrap around most feet and ankles. This plantar fasciitis night splint can be used on both right and left foot.
- Most reviews raved about the comfort of this brace as well as its effectiveness in a short period of time
- Less bulky than traditonal splints
- Can be worn on both feet
- Wearer has the ability to walk around easily
- Many reviewers complained that there were no instructions included with the product
- Some reviewers complained that they wished the metal in the splint was more flexible
Active Ankle Dorsal Night Splint is made of hard plastic type material. It is very forceful so it can hold your foot in the correct position. There are no rough edges and the well- molded plastic. The plastic part that goes around the foot is truly open on the bottom, it wraps around your foot on side with one side overlapping the other on the bottom of your foot so you can adjust it to fit correctly on your foot.
There is a fabric liner inside which has a bit of padding in it therefore you do have a decent amount of comfort between you and the plastic. There is a small slit that goes down/up in the cushion right at the place where the foot and leg meet. I’m not sure whether it is supposed to be there or not, there are not any finished seams on it. The fabric liner on the inside goes around your foot. It is well crafted and comfortable. I have had no problems with anything rubbing me anywhere and the fabric areas cover all the hard plastic parts so your skin does not contact with it anywhere.
There are 3 Velcro straps which wrap around, two on the leg and another on the foot. There is also a separate Velcro piece which you can attach to the bottom part of the foot after you have it on. This is a non-skid type pad which is made of rubber with little bumps on it. The straps are very soft and comfortable. They do not irritate or rub in any way.
It will take you some tries to get your right fit and to make sure it is comfortable when you sleep. Don’t get discouraged. Make sure that you get the foot part set tight enough so your foot doesn’t relax forward too much. If you make it too tight your foot will feel like it is going to sleep
- These are so effective that they can solve most problems, requiring a patient to hold their foot in one position
- They are less bulky and light in weight, which is an ideal for most people
- Triple stitched straps are stretch resistant, maintaining solid fit and support
- Reasonable price for the benefits received
- More of a low profile design, in comparison to others
- Some users complained that these splints didn’t keep their foot well. And when they tighten the straps, it became more uncomfortable.
- Runs a bit wide, so not really suitable for those with smaller feet
9. Posterior Sure Stretch
The exterior of the splint is hard plastic with vents along the calf to allow for breathability. The textured rubber sole will allow you to go to the bathroom without slipping. It's on the bulkier side, so it's not the best choice for anyone who moves a lot when they sleep.
You can remove the interior lining to wash it and keep it hygienic. The material is high-quality, soft, and will feel nice on your skin. The padding will keep the exterior plastic from biting into your leg and foot.
The straps have a tendency to stretch through the night and require adjustment. The fit is otherwise pretty solid.
- Adjustable flexion allows you to control the dorsal flexion for PF and Achilles issues
- Washable and breathable interior
- Slip resistant tread
- Reasonably low priced
- Doesn’t work too well for those who roll around a lot in their sleep
10. ITA-Med PFS-500
The splint features padded straps with center-release buckles that hold the foot at a 90-degree angle to prevent immobilization. For variations in angle, the straps can be adjusted from a 90-degree down to a 10-degree angle dorsal flexion. Buckles release for easy removal. The brace has a light-weight and low-profile shell filled with foam laminate for maximum supportive comfort for nightly and daily use. The bottom features an anti-slip sole for ample traction while walking. The brace is built for left or right-foot wear.
With a price tag under $50, the Ita-Med PFS-500 is a great solution to plantar fasciitis. As opposed to expensive shoe inserts that can cost hundreds of dollars, this night brace will give noticeable pain relief. Keep in mind, though, night splints are not a cure for plantar fasciitis. Please do not expect the pain to go away completely and do not stop wearing the splint. To keep the pain reduced, the splint must be worn every night.
The Criteria Used When Searching For The Best Splints for Plantar Fasciitis
The job of night splints is to, in basic terms, maintain the length and tension of the plantar fascia while resting overnight. While sleeping the body relaxes, allowing shortening as well as restoration to more of a nonfunctional state. This is the reason why for those who suffer from this condition, experience the most pain in their first steps after waking up.
The best option needs to keep the foot in the correct position, as to maintain the appropriate tension on the plantar fascia, not allowing it to shorten and return to a form which must be stretched back to have less painful use.
A properly functioning product should keep the foot positioned in a way which applies the right amount of tension while at the same time maintaining a bearable level of comfort during use. Remember, you’ll have to be able to get your sleep while wearing the splint.
The position in which the product keeps the foot placed overnight must be one that provides the necessary therapy which will result in less painful first morning steps.
Though the splint needs to maintain a proper position, there needs to be an element of comfort which allows the wearer to get some sleep with it on. We look for products which have elements such as soft lining, enough cushioning or padding between any hard plastic portions, and a universal level of adjustability, as to work properly for feet and legs of all shapes and sizes.
The strapping system should have some protection between any hook and loop closure and the legs, preventing irritating points of contact on the legs and feet. We also don’t want to recommend products that have pinch points around the places where the splint adjusts.
Another important feature that we look at is that the products do not put the foot in direct contact with plastics forms or hard and potentially sharp or pointy sections of the splint.
Many plantar fasciitis braces and splints come in different sizes, and some are even produced as one size fits all or most. The best splints will be able to give the appropriate fit to facilitate correct positioning of the leg and foot to achieve the intended results.
The straps must be placed in a way that allows proper adjustment and fitting. They cannot be located in places which do not firmly hold the leg and foot in the correct place for the right amount of tension to be applied.
If it is a universal or one size fits most type of product, the adjustability needs to be truly universal in function. It must have the ability to adjust properly to fit multiple foot and leg types.
It does absolutely no good to wear a night splint that is not able to provide tension to the correct location of the foot. In fact, wearing something that does not fit properly can create more problems, rather than helping with the intended issue. It is extremely important that the product fits precisely how it is meant to, thus allowing the appropriate therapy to be given.
Like almost anything else that goes on your feet, proper airflow is an important factor. Again, you have to be able to get a good night’s rest while wearing this contraption, so it really won’t provide a great situation if your feet sweat profusely while you have it on.
The ideal night splint ought to have plenty of open spots where air can flow through. Some may have mesh or other types of breathable materials in their construction. Although many of these devices are made with material like neoprene and durable synthetics, they must also be accompanied with a design which allows enough airflow to maintain a decent amount of breathability throughout the night.
We looked for products that do not have a boot like design which completely surrounds the foot and lower leg, stopping air from circulating properly. We also steered away from those made with materials such as lower quality nylon that has almost no breathability.
Other Important Factors To Consider When Shopping For A Night Splint
- Ability to position the ankle at a 90-degree angle of dorsiflexion to sustain stretching of plantar fascia and the calf while you sleep. Maintaining this tension is likely to reduce pain in the first few steps after rising from bed in the morning.
- It is possible that your fascia tissues and the calf muscles will stretch out more permanently, causing the pain to end, even when you cease to use the splints.
- There is a tendency to experience the symptoms sporadically. For example, you may decide to wear the splint for a few weeks overnight and realize that you no longer experience the pain anymore. However, the pain might return, and at these times you can resume use of the splint.
The Different Product Types Available
We have 2 main varieties of splints that assist athletes suffering from plantar fasciitis:
The basic difference in construction between the two types of night splints is the location of the support spine on your foot and lower leg. Size/bulk, breathability, tension adjustability and comfort also vary.
The dorsal splint sits on the shin, typically leaving the back of the ankle and the heel uncovered, allowing for ample breathability. A dorsal foot splint and brace lightly pulls the toes in an upward position to stretch the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia and is used to cure Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and other heel problems. The dorsal foot brace and splint is generally more comfortable than the other night splints, which leads to longer periods of wear at night, which can potentially speed recovery.
You may also like this post: 10 Best running shoes for plantar fasciitis
The spine of the boot brace type is located on the backside of the calf and leg. It is often a bigger in size than dorsal splints. A dorsal foot splint does not allow the splint to be adjusted for distinct angles of stretching, whereas an adjustable boot style night splint allows the user the flexibility to adjust the amount of stretch used on the Achilles tendon. A patient may first wear the boot splint set at the lowest possible angle and then gradually increase the angle. This may help with pain management and speed recovery.
Common Concerns – Dorsal Type Splints/Braces
- The design is prone to cause slippage of the foot therefore not able to hold onto the stretch.
- They tend to offer increased pressure that, when exerted on the toes, causes numbness.
- The larger straps in some brands tend to cause sweating of the foot.
Common Concerns – Boot Type Splints/Braces
- They are bulky and most users find them uncomfortable
- Can lack breathability
- Users find walking with the boot on difficult.
All of these splint models have pros and cons, therefore it is important to consult with your doctor to determine which type of night splint will work for you.
Read more: Running with plantar fasciitis
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are night splints painful to wear?
A: It shouldn’t add more pain to the current condition that you are trying to correct. It may take some time getting used to having the brace on your foot while you try to sleep, but if it is adding more pain then it is not fitting or working properly.
Q: If I have to get up during the night to go to the bathroom or something, do I have to take it off every time, and then put it back on when I return to bed?
A: Many of the newer products are made to allow a small amount of walking around the house if needed. Many even have a surface or very light treading on the bottom for positive grip. For short trips to the restroom, you probably won’t have to go through the whole removal and re-donning process each time.
Q: Are they easy enough to put on that I can do it myself?
A: Although some products may appear complex in design, they are all meant to be self-applied, meaning the wearer should be able to easily put them on themselves.
Q: How much of a difference do these splints actually make?
A: Their role is to keep the plantar fascia stretched to a point where it does not shorten and adapt back to a tightened state. If the fit of the splints are proper, and the tension is correctly applied, the difference should be noticed in the first steps taken in the morning. If worn properly, it will not be shortened back to a state where the first steps are excruciatingly painful.
Q: I have noticed that there are actually quite a few options available out there. Isn’t it easier to simply go for the most well-known and expensive brand or model?
A: While there are certain brands out there which are consistently trustworthy, it may not always be wise to use brand names or price as the major determining factor in your decision-making process. Just because something costs a lot doesn’t automatically make it the best. This type of product needs to work well for your particular feet.
There are many factors that go into taking proper care of your feet. When you add injuries such as shin splints or knee pain or other issues into the mix, this only demands greater to be paid to choosing the appropriate solutions and remedies.
It is important to remember that products such as night splints only work if used correctly. Careful attention must be paid to the crucial factors like proper fit and a correctly functioning design. It is also equally important to know how to use the products as they are intended to gain the very best result.
Here are some sources we used while conducting our research
While trying to provide the most informative content possible, we utilize many different sources which contain useful knowledge. Here are some of those helpful sources for you to take a look at:
- Secrets To Patient Adherence With Night Splints, Podiatry information website, Oct 26, 2009 ,
- Plantar Fasciitis - Home Treatment, Online Clinical Information, ,
- Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Controversy, Informational website, Jul 28, 2015 ,
- How Does A Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Work, Foot care website, ,
- Oh-m’God-It’s-a miracle: Night Splints, Foot health website, ,
- Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint, Online Clinical Information, ,