Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
Plantar fasciitis is a condition which can cause intense pain in the heel and the sole of the foot, but can be eased by performing regular plantar fasciitis stretches. Sufferers of the condition often complain of a sharp pain in the heel, which most commonly is felt in the morning straight after getting out of bed.
Many physiotherapists recommend performing gentle plantar fascia stretches, including those detailed on this page. The idea behind stretching the plantar fascia is to gently stretch the fascia tissue to prevent the sudden stretching when the first few steps are taken, and to decrease the chances of sustaining a further injury to the tissue. Stretching the plantar fascia regularly – morning and evening is good – can encourage the healing process.
It is important not to overdo the stretches, as the idea is to limber up the fascia tissue, and not to give it a workout. Just performing some stretches for a few minutes every morning and evening should be sufficient: however it is important that these stretches are performed on a daily basis for maximum effect. Performing these plantar fascia exercises should not cause you pain, and they should not be performed until any swelling and inflammation have subsided.
I addition to stretching the plantar fascia, it is highly beneficial to also stretch out the calves, and in particular the Achilles tendon. Tightness in the Achilles tendon can place an increased strain on the plantar fascia tissue, and keeping the calves limber is an important part of treating plantar fasciitis. Tight calf muscles and Achilles tendons can actually trigger the development of plantar fasciitis and if this is the root cause of the condition, stretching the Achilles tendon becomes all the more important.
There are a number of plantar fascia stretching products on the market to make performing these stretches quicker and easier, and with less effort. If in doubt about any of these plantar fascia stretches or any products which serve the same purpose, you should consult a podiatrist or doctor for advice.
Morning Plantar Fascia Stretches
These stretching exercises are best performed in bed before you get up, and can prevent plantar fasciitis pain.
- Stretch Your Foot – when you wake up, stretch your affected foot gently by bending it up and down ten times
- Place a Tennis Ball Under Your Foot Arch – Keep a tennis ball close to the bed, and before you get up, swing your legs over and place it under the arch of the affected foot, then try standing up. Roll the ball under the foot arch without exerting much weight on the foot. This will help to gently stretch the plantar fascia.
- Put on shoes with orthotic inserts – Orthotics, supportive insoles and heel seats help reduce the pressure on the affected heel and help to support the foot arches. These should be worn as soon as you get out of bed
- Avoid walking barefoot – When you get out of bed, always remember to put on shoes with good arch support. Walking with bare feet will make your heel pain worse, and can put all your plantar fascia stretches to waste.
General Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
You can perform these exercises at any time of the day. It is not necessary that you do them all at once, in fact, spreading them, out will be much better. Performing these stretches on 1-3 occasions per day should be sufficient.
- Calf Stretching – For this exercise, stand in front of a wall with your hands stretched in front to use the wall as support. Put the affected foot one step behind the other foot. With your leading foot flat on the floor and your affected leg stretched, lift your trailing heel whilst bending your front knee. Hold that posture for 15 sec, then relax and repeat three to four times
- Achilles tendon stretch – Stand on a flat surface. Gradually, lift your weight onto the balls of your feet and your toes and hold the position for 5 seconds, before gradually lowering your heels. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
- Marble lifting – Get a cup and some marbles or small pebbles. With your toes, pick up the marbles one by one with your toes and place them in the cup. You should at least deposit 10 marbles in the cup to complete the exercise.
- Towel Stretch – Roll up a towel into a tube. Sit on a chair with your back straight and your shoulders back. Hold the towel in both hands and loop it around the affected foot. The towel should be positioned under the foot arch. Pull gently to increase tension and increase the pressure on the foot arch. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times.
- Barefoot walking in soft sand – Whilst barefoot walking is to be avoided at all costs, barefoot walking in soft sand provides the arches with support and it cushions the heel. It gives the plantar fascia a highly beneficial stretch
- Stretching products such as the Cryosphere can be useful for stretching the pantar fascia while delivering cold and heat to the affected foot