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There are several ways to relieve plantar fasciitis pain, and that’s not just limited to rolling the bottom of your foot over a tennis ball.
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In this article we’ll suggest 10 exercises for plantar fasciitis which can help to alleviate symptoms.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that affects the thick band of tissue which runs along the arch of your foot, from your heel bone to the joint of your big toe.
When excessive stress is placed on this connective tissue it results in inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament.
The most common symptom is foot pain, particularly to the heel, which is usually felt first thing in the morning and after periods of long rest.
Methods to treat the condition include wearing footwear that better supports the arch of the foot, applying ice packs, self-massage techniques and suitable stretching exercises.
Plantar fasciitis more often affects long distance runners and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle and have a higher body mass index.
What Triggers Plantar Fasciitis?
The exact cause is not always easy to diagnose.
However, the most common causes are usually the following:
Overuse or Overload
Activities that put stress on the plantar fascia, such as running, jumping, or prolonged standing, can cause microscopic tears and inflammation in the fascia.
Flat feet, high arches, abnormal gait patterns, or an uneven distribution of weight on the feet can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
Tight Calf Muscles
Tightness in the calf muscles or Achilles tendon can increase the stress on the plantar fascia.
Wearing shoes with inadequate support or shoes that don’t fit properly can put excessive pressure on the bottom of the foot which can strain the plantar fascia.
Carrying excess weight puts more pressure on the plantar fascia and can increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis.
10 Exercises For Plantar Fasciitis
It’s a good idea to do these plantar fasciitis exercises upon waking and before you take your first steps in the morning.
Another tip is to perform them barefoot.
Before undertaking any of the strengthening exercises demonstrated below, please seek advice from a physical therapist who can ensure they are right for you based on your needs and abilities.
- Stand on the edge of a step so that the back heel of both feet is hanging off the edge.
- Slowly allow your heels to drop down so you feel a good stretch to arches of your feet.
- Hold this for 10 to 15 seconds then raise back up, make sure not to bounce and use control.
- If easier, you can do one foot at a time.
- Do these 3 more times.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretch
- From a seated position, take your left foot and rest it across the knee of your right leg.
- Grab hold of your toes and gently pull them towards your shin.
- You should feel a gentle stretch to the sole of the foot.
- Hold it for 30 seconds and complete for 3 repetitions.
- Start by sitting on the floor with legs extended out in front of you.
- Take your free leg and place the foot on the inside of the opposite thigh.
- Use a small towel, roll it up and then hook it over your toes.
- Gently pull the towel so the top of your foot bends towards you. Make sure to keep your knee straight throughout.
- Do this 3 times and hold for 30 seconds.
Foot Self Massage
- Make sure your remove your shoes and socks before doing this.
- Place your foot over the opposite knee.
- Using just your thumbs, apply pressure from your heel and run up to the ball of your foot.
- You may feel bumps along the sole of your foot, and this will be the tightness associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Continue doing this for around 3 to 5 minutes to help loosen up the fascia.
- Start in a seated position with both feet flat on the ground.
- Place something like a golf ball, rolling pin or, even better, a frozen water bottle and under the arch of the foot to be treated.
- Carefully roll your foot backwards and forwards to help loosen up the tissue.
- Apply as much or as little pressure as you find comfortable.
- Keep rolling like this for around 2 minutes.
- Start by getting on all fours and make sure your feet are resting on their toes.
- Carefully sit back as though to move into a kneeling position.
- You should start to feel a stretch to the underside of your foot.
- The further back you go will allow for a deeper stretch.
- Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Begin by standing with your feet at a hip width distance.
- Hold on to something like the back of a chair or table if you need to.
- From here, raise up on to your toes.
- Make sure to move slowly so properly feel a stretch to your calf muscles.
- Hold briefly then slowly lower back down.
- Start with 10 repetitions then move up to 20 as it becomes easier.
Standing Calf Stretch
- Facing a wall, place both hands against it at around chest height.
- Take a step back with the affected foot.
- Keep the back leg straight with the heel on the ground throughout. You should have a bend to the knee of the front leg.
- Slowly lower your chest towards the wall and continue to bend your front knee. Remember to keep your back knee straight.
- You should feel a stretch to the back of the lower leg, continue holding for 30 seconds.
Towel Toe Curls
- Place a towel on the ground and take a seat.
- Place your affected foot on top of the towel.
- Scrunch your toes up to grip the towel.
- Now release the toes to drop the towel.
- Keep flexing and extending your toes like for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Stand facing a wall and wedge the toes of your affected foot against the wall with the heel resting on the ground.
- Place your hands on the wall for support.
- Slowly lower your body towards the wall and bend your front knee at the same time.
- This will stretch out the bottom of your foot as well as your calf muscles.
- Maintain the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
By addressing plantar fasciitis through targeted exercises is one of the best ways to help manage and alleviate the discomfort and pain associated with this common foot condition.
The exercises mentioned in this article, from stretches to strengthening routines, are designed to target the specific muscles and tissues that play a role in the development and persistence of plantar fasciitis.
Remember, consistency and patience are key in managing plantar fasciitis effectively.
By dedicating time and effort to these exercises, you are taking an active and step towards a pain-free and mobile future.
Here’s to healthy, happy feet!