Strassburg Sock Review: It Helped My Plantar Fasciitis, With One Caveat
In my article on socks for plantar fasciitis, I promised a review of the Strassburg Sock once I'd had a chance to use it for a while. I've used it now for a week and a half and I am ready to offer up my first impressions.
The good news: The sock, which professes to be a patented therapeutic device designed to help heal plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and other related foot conditions, has made a big difference in my life. I've been experiencing a recurrence of plantar fasciitis after having controlled it successfully for many years. It was getting worse every day, making being on my feet intensely painful. Since wearing the sock, I'm seeing major improvements. I love it and am so grateful I went ahead and tried it.
The bad news: I had to modify the sock to get it to work for me.
Update 2015: It's now a few years after I wrote the review below. The Strassburg Sock turned out to be the big game changer for me and helped me heal up, and I've stayed healed (knock on wood). I'd use it again, this time as an early treatment rather than a last resort, if it ever comes back.
The Strassburg Sock - Did It Help You, Too?
Strassburg Sock Problematic for Petite Plus Size Woman
I am petite (about 5'1") and have a plus sized calf. I bought the Strassburg Sock rather than some other night splint or brace for plantar fasciitis because this one seemed the most accommodating for a large calf size and reviews indicated it was comfortable.
I learned that the sock was not really designed for a person my size. The plus size calf wasn't a problem - the larger sock was plenty large enough to fit around my leg.
No, the problem was my being petite. The Strassburg Sock isn't really designed for short people, as far as I can tell.
From reading the instructions, it was obvious the manufacturer tried to take height into account, hoping one size would work for everyone. The instructions directed me to fold the sock's rim over to rest on mid-calf if the sock came up too high on the leg. I did this, and it helped. But I could not get good tension on the front strap that pulls the toes up, because the angle at which my toes were pulled didn't effectively lift the front of the foot. Something about the ergonomics just wasn't right.
The Formula: One Strassburg Sock Plus One Semi-Rigid Footbed
That's when the inspiration came. My husband, a carpenter, said "Why don't you put a board in there?"
I scoffed, thinking how much the pressure of the board would hurt my injured heel (which would sometimes hurt when touched only lightly). But then I thought about some spare Sole Custom Footbeds I had lying around. (Any of you who have read my other plantar fasciitis articles will know that I love these semi-rigid footbeds and use them in my athletic shoes to provide better arch support for plantar fasciitis. The spare insert I used is the slim leather-coated model made by Sole designed for dress shoes.)
I shoved one footbed into the sock so it was positioned just as it would be in a shoe, then fastened the straps as instructed. It felt comfortable and, as hoped, provided more leverage to lift the front of the foot up.
Now, worn this way the sock doesn't yank the forefoot way up - in fact, my foot is not even completely perpendicular to the leg (which it is in a standing position). The angle is far less dramatic. But, amazingly, it's braced enough to be effective for me. Very much enough.
Signs That the Strassburg Sock Would Help Me
I had a clue that some form of night brace or splint would help me even before I got the sock. Why? Well, knowing that the point of a PF splint is to keep the foot's plantar fascia from healing up in a contracted state, I would try to consciously keep my foot in a neutral position - that is, with neither the toes pointed nor the foot hyperextended - through sheer will and diligence. This actually helped me noticeably - but not enough.
I'm guessing it wasn't sufficient because I couldn't control how far I lifted the toes, because I had trouble remembering to hold my foot in position, and of course because I could not brace anything when I was asleep. But it was a clue that my problem was the classic "reinjury" problem of plantar fasciitis - it starts to heel, then you step on it in its foreshortened state and injure it all over again.
If I have any advice to anyone else with plantar fasciitis who's considering wearing a brace and doesn't have the benefit of advice from a doctor or podiatrist, it's to do this before you invest:
Try to consciously hold your foot in a neutral position while at rest and see if your first steps upon rising are any easier. If so, that may be a sign that the sock can help you. (Of course, I'm not a health professional, so don't take this as medical advice, yada yada yada.)
Dramatic Difference and Steady Improvement
The sock felt fine when used with the insert. I did worry that I could not seem to wear it all night - I could only seem to go for a couple of hours at a time before I kicked it off. (See, it's not supposed to be painful, but occasionally I'd fasten the calf band too tightly or latch the toe strap with too much tension, or I would just get nervous because there are all these warnings on it that it's not to be used if you're diabetic, pregnant, have any kinds of circulatory problems, etc., and who's to say I don't have a problem with circulation? - anyway, I'd neurotically start thinking it was cutting off my life's blood and kick it off, though there was really no sign of such a thing.)
So I was afraid the device would be less effective because I wasn't wearing it all night but only sporadically. That doesn't seem to be the case at all - it's made a huge difference to my heel pain, and now I'm optimistic I'm going to recover, after months of the plantar fasciitis getting so bad I could only hobble.
I can walk now without it's hurting excruciatingly, and each day I'm healing up more. And that's even when I'm on my feet a lot. You see, it had been getting to the point that any time spent on my feet was hurting my feet agonizingly and making the plantar fasciitis worse.
I tried all the usual tried-and-true treatments for me - icing, stretching, strengthening exercises, tape - I even tried some New Balance shoes, since they seem to be so popular with plantar fasciitis sufferers (see the poll in my article on the Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.) My husband was able to find an evilly tight spot on my calf I've had for years and release it - ouch! Even after all that, I was showing negligible improvement.
After just a couple of days using the sock, I started thinking it was working. I am now certain of it. Now I can do what I need to do in the way of chores and stand casually on my feet talking to somebody without edging desperately for a chair.
How am I using it? As I said, I wear the Strassburg Sock sporadically. But I use it strategically, too. I put it on whenever I'm sprawled in bed during the day and when I'm sleeping - on and off. Once I have the two sets of velcro straps positioned at their optimal length, if I'm careful I can keep them attached when I take the sock off and then just slip the sock back on without having to re-fasten the straps.
The key thing, I've discovered, is to make sure I'm wearing the Strassburg Sock just before I'll need to rise. In other words, I've found it's important to make sure I'm wearing it at least fifteen minutes or so before I get up to go to the bathroom or whatever.
Review: Thumbs Definitely Up
So for me, the Strassburg Sock works to help my plantar fasciitis. It's helping me when I didn't have much hope otherwise. When I think how reluctant I was to try it, I wince now.
I was also pleased to find that although it looks in the pictures like a thin sock, the fabric doesn't feel thin or easily torn. The fabric does pill, so if you're concerned about aesthetics...there you go. It's also well sewn and sturdy. It is washable, though I haven't washed it yet.
I do hope the manufacturer begins to make these a therapeutic sock model for short people like me, and not just in the small size, but in the large size. So many people seem to think that petite means built like a child! I really appreciated the larger sock and just wish it had been designed for someone my height. But then again, maybe I'd never have made the modification, and maybe it wouldn't have been as effective without the hard insole, anyway...?
Oh, and since PF is my problem, of course I do not know how well it works for Achilles tendinitis, another foot condition it's supposed to help.
Buy the Strassburg Sock
If I had not taken a chance and tried this brace, I hope that I would have tried another one at least, because it was what I needed to finally heal my heel. Keeping the foot in extension at night was key to preventing the plantar fascia from healing in a shortened position.
I did not receive any freebies for this review. Check out my disclosure statement about compensation for this article.
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