Author: Chloe Wilson - BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Exercises for plantar fasciitis are one of the best ways to reduce the pain, inflammation and disability associated with this common cause of foot pain. Plantar fasciitis is a condition where these is inflammation of the band of soft tissue underneath your foot, known as the plantar fascia.
It is the most common cause of heel pain and bottom of foot pain affecting 1 in 10 people. Pain is usually worst first thing in the morning, after prolonged rest or after prolonged activity. Any movement of the foot which stretches the fascia will cause pain.
Exercises should be a major part of plantar fasciitis treatment
to help speed up recovery and to prevent the problem from returning.
They should stretch and strengthen the foot, ankle and calf muscles, as
well as improving the balance and control around the foot.
Here we will look at some of the best stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis that you can do in your own home. We will then go on to look at strengthening exercises. To find out more about this common cause of foot pain, including the causes and symptoms, visit the Plantar Fasciitis Overview and Treatment sections for the ten best ways to treat the condition.
Stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis aim to stretch the fascia and the calf muscles. This helps to improve the position of the foot and reduce the tension on the band of tissue, allowing it to heal and preventing future problems. Exercises for plantar fasciitis should be done regularly until the pain has fully resolved, which can take a few months, so do persevere.
Purpose: Tightness in the calf muscles and Achilles tendon place extra strain on the sole of the foot, making calf stretches very important exercises for plantar fasciitis
Starting Position: Stand facing a wall/table with the leg to be stretched back behind you with the toes pointing forwards, heel on the floor and knee straight
Action: Lunge forwards to the wall or a table, bending the front knee but keeping the back knee straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf.
Repetition: Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3x. Aim to do 2 sets daily and extra sets before and after any exercise
Watch Points: Make sure the toes point forwards, not out to the side. Keep the back heel on the floor and the knee straight
This is one of my favourite exercises for plantar fasciitis. It helps
to stretch both the calf muscles and the plantar fascia itself
Starting Position: Stand on a small step, letting the heel of the leg to be stretched hang off the back of the step
Action: Drop the heel down by bending the other knee until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf and the sole of your foot.
Repetition: Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2x daily
These are just two simple ways to stretch the calf muscles – for other ways, including how to stretch lying or sitting down, visit the Calf Stretches section
This is the most therapeutic of the stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis and feels really soothing
Starting Position: Stand with a golf ball, tennis ball or unopened drinks can/water bottle under the ball of your foot.
Action: Press down onto the object so there is firm pressure through the sole of your foot and roll your foot backwards and forwards over it.
Repetition: Spend about 10 minutes doing this a couple of times a day
TOP TIP: Get extra benefit by placing your drinks can or water bottle in the freezer beforehand so you get the cooling effect alongside this great exercise for plantar fasciitis to help reduce inflammation
Starting Position: Sitting with one leg crossed so you are holding the foot to be stretch
Action: Draw all the toes backwards, particularly concentrating on the big toe until you feel a stretch across the sole of the foot
Repetition: Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 x
TOP TIP: For extra benefit, while holding this stretch, massage the plantar fascia by rubbing up and down the foot
Starting Position: While standing, rise up onto your tiptoes on the foot you want to stretch
Action: Press down into the floor until you feel a stretch in the sole of your foot and toes
Repetition: Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times
Stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis are one of the best ways to start treating the condition, but there are other things that can help. Visit the Treatment section for the ten best ways to solve this common condition, including shoe inserts, splints and surgery.
Strengthening exercises are also important as they help to improve the strength and support around the foot reducing the tension on the band of tissue so should be done alongside these stretching exercises - visit the Strengthening Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis section.
To find out more about the condition, including common causes, symptoms and how to prevent it, visit the Plantar Fasciitis Overview.
There are also other causes of pain in the heel and bottom of the foot. To find out more about these and for help working out what might be causing your pain, visit the foot diagnosis section.