If you are suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, you will most likely suffer from heel pain where the ligament and tissue of the fascia joins the heel bone.
This pain is usually caused by tears or damage, resulting in soreness or inflammation around that area. One way to help combat this is to start doing some stretching and strengthening exercises.
How will plantar fasciitis stretches help?
The stretches will help treat your foot pain by and make the fascia ligament become looser and more flexible, therefore helping to reduce the pain.
In addition to stretching, it will be worth doing some strengthening exercises too which will help build up the supporting muscles structure around the arch area of your foot. This will also help reduce the stress placed on the Plantar Fascia ligament.
Many people go straight into treating plantar fasciitis, using ice, night splints or expensive orthotic insoles.
However, resting and doing regular stretching can be just as effective. Even if you still use other methods of pain relief, stretching will help you recover quicker.
What works best?
The 2 types of exercises that you need to concentrate on for Plantar Fasciitis, are as follows.
Sets of stretching exercises that concentrate on stretching the plantar fascia tissue on the sole of your foot. This, combined with exercises that stretch your calf muscles will help reduce the pain you feel.
Combining stretching with strengthening exercises will help build up the muscular profile of your foot. This will help build the foundation for a healthy foot, ensuring that everything is in place for a good recovery.
Exercises that need to be avoided.
Certain exercises will just make your heel pain much worse, so it will be an idea to avoid anything high impact, such as jogging or running.
Anything that involves you landing on your heel with the entire weight of your body is definitely not recommended.
If you are doing other types of exercise, make sure you are stretching your fascia properly first and doing some sort of warm up activity. This will help reduce the risk of further injury.
Other foot problems can make plantar fasciitis worse.
Apart from the usual ways that plantar fasciitis can occur, many sufferers usually experience other problems with their feet, which may make their pain worse. A common complaint is that their feet pronate (roll inwards) when they walk, causing pain across the top.
Using strengthening exercises, this can be improved, also reducing the heel pain at the same time. You can also ice your heel after exercise, which will help reduce any inflammation or pain. However, it may be time to speak to a podiatrist or doctor if you suspect that you are suffering from pronation of your feet.
Plantar Fasciitis stretches in the morning.
If you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, you will know that the worst pain is first thing in the morning when you get out of bed. Doing some stretches will help reduce that pain and have you skipping merrily to the bathroom before you know it.
The pain is present, because the plantar fascia ligament tightens during sleep, making it painful when you first get out of bed. However, you can do some massage or stretches before getting out of bed, which will help.
- Firstly, stretch your feet by flexing them up and down for around 1 minute before getting out of bed.
- If you can touch your toes (I can’t), reach forward and pull back on your toes to help stretch your foot. Alternatively, you can also use a towel to do the same exercise.
- Massaging the sole of your foot for a few minutes before you get up will help warm up the fascia. You can still do this when you are half asleep too.
- Having a good pair of shoes, slippers or sandals ready to step into when you get out of bed with arch support can be ideal. Flat feet and plantar fasciitis do not go well together, so make sure you have appropriate supporting footwear to use.
Here are some stretching and strengthening exercises you can do each day to help your plantar fasciitis pain.
Stretching exercises to do.
The idea with these exercises is that you should not feel pain, only that your body or muscles are being stretched.
If you do feel any pain, stop immediately. Ideally, these exercises should be performed a few times per day, especially if you have times when you are not active.
The tennis ball stretch.
Get a tennis ball or round object that will roll on the floor. A rolling pin or bottle will also be sufficient for this exercise.
While you are sitting down, place the item on the floor and roll your foot over it, massaging the arch area.
This may be a little tender at first, but if you can stand it, progress to doing the same exercise but stand up rather than sit down.
To do this stretch, take a towel and put your foot firmly on one end, holding the other in your hands.
Pull upwards to stretch all of your toes, stretching out the plantar fascia at the same time. This exercise can be repeated a few times.
It’s quite amazing to think that your problems with plantar fasciitis could be all to do with your calf muscles being too tight.
Some doctors recommend that keeping your calves stretched and in shape is as good as any other treatment for heel pain. In fact, even scientific research was carried out to prove whether it was more effective (it was inconclusive).
There are a few different muscles in your calf and making sure they are all stretched is important. Check out this video by Oscar Sanchez on specific calf stretches for plantar fasiitis. That will show you all you need to know.
There are also some great gadgets to help with calf stretches such as the One Stretch or the ProStretch Foot Rocker. They will help you to get the most from this activity without injuring yourself.
Strengthening exercises to do.
As well as exercises that help keep your muscles supple, it is important to help build up the strength of the foot.
The following 2 exercises will help you to do this – and they are very simple to do and can be done at home or even in the office if needs be.
The term “towel curl” makes it sound like you are going to be lifting weights with your feet.
However, all you need to do is place a towel or sheet flat on the floor and put your foot on top. Then, perform a scrunching motion with your toes to pull the towel towards you. Then, push it back again with your toes.
If this seems too easy or simple, put something on the towel that will add some weight – then you will feel it working the muscles.
You can also see this page at WebMD for more information on how to do a towel curl.
Marble pickups are also very easy to do and can also be quite good fun (tip: get your kids to join in too). Use a small marble or ball and put it on the floor.
Then, only using your toes, pick it up by gripping it. Then, hold it for a few seconds and put it down again.
Try not to drop it. It will be best to place it down slowly, controlling it at all times.
These are just some of the simple plantar fasciitis stretches and exercises you can do at home to help reduce the pain.
If you want more information or help with these exercises, speak to your doctor who may be able to help or refer you to a physiotherapist.