Plantar fasciitis is a condition that arises from inflammation in the fascia (a tough band of fibrous tissue) attached to the heel bone. It causes pain across the bottom of the foot. Frequently it affects people with inflammatory arthritis but it can also occur in people with no previous history of arthritis and can be a result of overuse, particularly among serious runners.
Research also suggests that plantar fasciitis can be caused by a shortening in the Achilles tendon.
Whatever the causes, there are a number of simple exercises you can easily perform in the home which can help relieve the symptoms and pain that regularly accompany this condition. In this article, we highlight the 7 best stretches and exercises for Plantar Fasciitis that are beginner friendly and easy to do at home. Do however consult your GP if the pain suddenly worsens, you sense a tingling or loss of sensation in your foot or if the pain has not improved within a few weeks.
Stretches and Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
1. Rolling Plantar Fascia Stretch
This exercise is great for loosening up foot muscles and relieving tension in the foot. It can easily be performed with any round household item such as a can of beans, rolling pin, golf or tennis ball – or a specialised foam roller if you have one.
Place the object at your feet in front of the chair you are going to sit on. Sit tall in the chair, back straight.
Position the round object under the arch of your foot and roll in all directions for 2 minutes. Repeat for the other foot.
This simple exercise is good to perform at least twice daily to counteract symptoms of plantar fasciitis.
2. Sitting Plantar Fascia Stretch
This exercise is designed to relieve muscle tension in the plantar fascia.
Sit tall in a chair, back straight. Cross the affected leg over the other leg, resting the heel on the knee.
Place hand across the base of the toes of the affected foot and slowly pull the toes in towards the shin until you feel a tension in the arch of the foot. Hold for 15 – 20 seconds. Relax and repeat 5 – 10 times for the affected foot.
3. Towel Curls
This exercise works on the muscles which directly support the arch of your foot.
Place a towel on the floor and sit in a chair, back straight, feet side by side and flat on the towel. Grasp the towel by curling your toes around it then pull it in towards your body using all your toes, including the little one.
Repeat 10 times, scrunching up a new bit of towel with each new toe curl and pulling each new pleat in towards the body. Repeat the process in reverse, scooting the towel back into its starting position on the floor.
5. Wall Push
This exercise helps loosen calf muscles which in itself can bring relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Facing a wall, place both hands at shoulder height flat against the surface. Position one foot in front of the other, the front foot approximately 12 inches (30 cm) distant from the wall.
Keeping both feet flat on the floor, slowly bend the front knee towards the wall. You should feel a tension in the heel and calf of rear leg as you do so. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 5 – 10 times.
6. Marble Pickups
This simple exercise is designed to flex and stretch the muscles in your feet.
Sit straight in a chair, knees bent, feet flat on a floor. Position 10 – 20 marbles and an empty bowl by your feet.
Curl your toes round each individual marble, lift and drop into the bowl. Repeat for the other foot.
7. Foot Flexes
Stretching and flexing the foot increases blood flow to the troublesome area and can relieve tension in calves thus alleviating some of the pain of Plantar Fasciitis.
For this exercise you will need a resistance band or towel (similarly a speed band would also work). Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you toes pointing upwards.
Wrap the band or towel around your foot holding the ends in both hands.
Gently point the toes away from your body pushing against the resistance of the band/towel. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position, then pull toes towards your body, all the while keeping your knees straight. Hold for 10 seconds before returning to start position. Repeat 3 times for each foot.
Other Remedies and Exercises
We hope this guide has given you some exercises and stretches which will help ease and counteract some of the pain and symptoms that go with plantar fasciitis. Obviously, there are other remedies you could try too: swimming is a great non-weight bearing exercise for example which can help exercise and stretch painful feet when standing and walking are too painful.
Using padded insoles which support the arch of the foot can also be a godsend should you suddenly be afflicted by plantar fasciitis, as can footwear which has more room, offers support and is generally more comfortable during an outbreak.
Balance pad exercises that use a cushioned surface may also be worth exploring.
Of course, if your symptoms fail to improve – or worsen – always consult your doctor or a health professional. Here at fitness drum, we hope you are soon well on the road to recovery.