Author: Chloe Wilson - BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Plantar Fasciitis exercises aim to strengthen and stretch the foot, ankle and calf muscles. When done correctly, they help to reduce plantar fasciitis pain and inflammation.
The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain underneath the foot, especially around the heel. It 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.
Here, we will look at the best strengthening exercises for plantar fasciitis. 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.
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
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 exercise without a towel, just mimic the action
This is another fun one of the plantar fasciitis exercises. It helps to improve the strength and control around the foot
Starting Position: Place some marbles and a bowl on the floor
Action: Pick each marble up with your toes and place 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
This is a good plantar fasciitis exercise to start with as it specifically targets the muscles underneath the foot that support the foot arches. Weakness here is a common cause of plantar fasciitis
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
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
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
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.
Progression: Once you can do 30 repetitions, try doing one leg at a time
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
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
This is a great way to improve your balance and the control around the foot making it a great plantar fasciitis exercises
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 into part of your daily routine by doing it e.g. when brushing your teeth, waiting for the kettle to boil etc.
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.