Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

Written By: Chloe Wilson BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed By: FPE Medical Review Board

Plantar Fasciitis Exercises: Strengthen and stretch the plantar fascia in the foot

Plantar Fasciitis exercises aim to strengthen and stretch the foot, ankle and calf muscles. 

When done correctly, exercises help to reduce plantar fasciitis pain and inflammation. 

The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain underneath the foot, especially around the heel. 

Plantar fasciitis is usually worst first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, eases of as you walk around and then returns after you have been on your feet for a while.

It is important to do a combination of strengthening and stretching plantar fasciitis exercises both in order to treat the condition and to prevent it coming back in the future. 

Strength Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

Here, we will look at the best strengthening plantar fasciitis exercises.  They help to improve the strength, control, co-ordination and balance around the foot.  If you haven’t already do so, do also take a look at the Stretching Exercises and Top 10 Treatments for plantar fasciitis sections.

1. Towel Scrunches

This is one of my favourite plantar fasciitis exercises.  It helps to strengthen the intrinsic muscles which support the foot arches.  Easy to do while you sit and watch TV

foot scrunch 330 opt sept 20

Starting Position: Lay a towel out on the floor and sit with your foot resting on towel, flat on the floor

Action: Try and draw the towel towards you by scrunching your toes. Keep the heel in contact with the floor throughout

Repetitions: Spend 1-2 minutes doing this

Top Tips: You can still do this plantar fasciitis exercise without a towel, just mimic the action

2. Marble Pick-Ups

This is another fun one of the plantar fasciitis exercises.  It helps to improve the strength and control around the foot

marble pickups 300 opt sept 20

Starting Position: Place some marbles and a bowl on the floor

Action: Pick each marble up with your toes and drop it in the bowel

Repetitions: Spend 1-2 minutes doing this, twice a day

Variations: You can use any small items e.g. dice or pencil instead of marbles

3.  Foot Arch Lifts

Foot arch lifts are good plantar fasciitis exercises to start with as they specifically targets the muscles underneath the foot that support the foot arches. Weakness here is a common cause of plantar fasciitis

foot arch lifts 300 opt sept 20

Starting Position: Sit on a chair with your foot resting flat on the floor

Action: Draw the arch of the foot up off the floor, keeping the heel, big toe and ball of the foot on the floor.  Hold for 3 seconds and relax

Repetitions: Spend about 1 minute doing this

Progression: Perform the exercise in standing

Top Tips:  It may take a few goes to work out how to get your foot doing this action correctly.  You can place a coin underneath the base of your big toe and ensure that you keep resting on throughout for extra feedback.  It won’t feel like you are doing much, but it really makes a difference

4.  Heel Raises

Weakness in the calf muscles is a common cause of plantar fasciitis as it affects how the foot moves. This is just one way to strengthen the calf muscles – visit the calf strengthening section for a wider range of exercises

stand heel raise 300 opt sept 22

Starting Position: Stand with your feet resting flat on the floor.  You can hold onto a chair or the wall for balance if needed

Action: Push up, lifting your heels of the floor as you come up onto tiptoes.  Hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower down

Repetition: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Progression: Once you can do 30 repetitions, try doing one leg at a time

Top Tips: Try to take your weight equally on both feet.  If that is too difficult to start with, let your good foot do more of the work and gradually progress to equal work as able.

5.  Tip Toe Walking

This is a simple but effective way to improve the strength of your calf and improve the control and stability around the ankle as part of your plantar fasciitis exercises

Tip toe walking is a really simple strengthening plantar fasciitis exercise.  Approved use by

Starting Position: Standing

Action: Rise up onto both tip toes and walk around, staying up throughout. 

Repetitions: Spend a couple of minutes doing this every day

Variations: Walk forwards, backwards, sideways and in circles

6.  Single Leg Standing

This is a great way to improve your balance and the control around the foot making it a great plantar fasciitis exercise

Single Leg Standing Exercise to improve balance.  Approved use by

Starting Position: Standing by a chair or the wall for balance

Action: Lift one foot off the floor so you are balancing on one leg

Repetition: Spend 5 minutes doing this, 2x daily. 

Progression: Once you feel confident with this exercise, try closing your eyes – you should find it a lot more challenging

Top Tips: Build this plantar fasciitis exercise into part of your daily routine by doing it e.g. when brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil etc.

What Else Can Help?

To get the most benefit from plantar fasciitis exercises, it is essential to be stretching as well as strengthening the muscles – find out more about how to effectively stretch in the plantar fasciitis stretches section.  You will need to do exercises for a good few weeks and should continue until your symptoms have completely settled, otherwise the problem is likely to return.

Plantar fasciitis exercises are only one part of treatment, there are lots of other things that can help.  You can find out more in the Top 10 Plantar Fasciitis Treatments section including information on orthotics/shoe inserts, night splints, injections, ice and more.

If you have more questions such as what is plantar fasciitis, what are the symptoms and how to prevent it, visit the plantar fasciitis overview

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Page Last Updated: 10/06/22
Next Review Due: 10/06/24