Struggling with the burning pain of plantar fasciitis? You don’t have to live with it anymore!
Learn the top five exercises that are scientifically proven to provide relief from this condition in just weeks. Get ready to experience the freedom of walking again and start your journey towards a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the tissue at the bottom of your foot — called the plantar fascia — becomes inflamed or irritated. This often results in pain in the heel of your foot that can range from mild to severe and can be felt when walking, standing for long periods, or climbing stairs.
Although there is no single solution for this condition, exercises are a popular treatment option. Here are five effective exercises that you should consider if you have plantar fasciitis.
Definition of plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory injury to the thick, ligament-like tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot, connecting your toes to your heel bone. The plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot and helps you push off when walking. Pain from plantar fasciitis can range from a dull ache to sharp, stabbing sensations in the heel and arch of the foot.
It occurs most commonly in runners who have sudden increases in their training program or those who wear unsupportive footwear. Plantar fasciitis can also be caused by trauma, such as a fall or accident, or overuse by athletes who engage in competitive sports; however, it is also common among sedentary individuals who walk less than usual because of jobs that require them to stand for long hours at a time.
To help manage and alleviate pain due to plantar fasciitis, here are five exercises you should include in your daily routine:
Stretching exercises are an important component of any rehabilitation program for plantar fasciitis. Stretching helps to reduce tension on the plantar fascia and allows the tendon to heal properly. The following stretches can be done daily and should be performed in sets of 10 repetitions:
Calf Stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a few feet away from a wall or solid surface. Place your palms flat against the wall, then step forward with one foot so that the heel is stretching towards the ground (knee bent). Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch legs.
Toe Stretch: Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you. Loop a towel around one foot, bringing it back under the ball of your foot and hold each end firmly with both hands until you feel a slight stretch across the top of your toes. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch sides.
Heel Raises: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding onto a supportive surface if necessary. Lift up off both heels so that you’re standing tall on just your toes, then lower yourself back down slowly until you feel a gentle pull in your calf muscles. Do this 10 times before switching feet and repeating.
Foot Roll Out: Sit or stand in front of a hard ball (such as an exercise ball or tennis ball) and place your heel onto it, gently rolling back and forth for 2 minutes (1 minute per side). Concentrate on applying steady pressure as you roll from left to right across the ball using only as much force as you can comfortably manage without causing pain.
Toe Curls: Lie down on a flat surface and lift up one leg straight in front of you so that it’s parallel to the ground, then curl all 5 toes downwards into flexion until they touch each other at their tips (bunched up like when clenching fists). Hold this position for 20 seconds before releasing back into extension (toestraight) and repeating several times per set before changing legs.
Calf stretches are an important and often overlooked component of plantar fasciitis rehabilitation. Tight calf muscles can cause your foot to point downward rather than up, leading to a tension build-up in the plantar fascia that can result in pain and inflammation. As such, regular stretching of the calf muscles is necessary for recovery from plantar fasciitis.
There are several ways to stretch the calf muscle, but the most popular include toe raises on a step, wall calf stretches, and seated stretches against a wall with one or both legs straight out in front. Toe raises should be performed with your front foot up on a step and your back leg hanging off the step, then by pushing your heel down until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your calf. Wall calf stretches should be done by standing facing away from a wall and placing both hands onto it while keeping one foot forward and slightly back while keeping the other leg straight; you should feel a slight stretch in the back of your ankle when doing this exercise correctly.
And finally seated stretches can be done by simply sitting down with one or both feet outstretched while holding onto something stable such as a table or desk, as you want to ensure that you stay still during this exercise so that all movement comes from extending your muscles to their full length and avoiding overextending them beyond their optimal range of motion which could lead to further injury or exacerbation of existing symptoms.
Achilles tendon stretches
Achilles tendon stretches are important to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis. These stretches help improve flexibility while strengthening and stretching the Achilles tendon, making it better able to support the load of your foot during activities and exercise. These exercises can be a great way to keep the heel and foot muscles flexible, which can help prevent future issues with pain or injury.
- Wall Stretch: Stand about 3 feet back from a wall, facing it. Place your hands on it for balance as you step forward with one foot into a slight lunge and point your toes away from you at an angle towards the wall at 90 degrees (heel still on ground). Bend your knee further forward until you feel the stretch in your calf muscle, then hold the position for up to 10 seconds. Return to starting position; switch legs, repeat 5 times for each side.
- Towel Stretch: Toe curl: While sitting in a chair, place a towel under one foot as far back as possible towards the knee/ calf area; grasp/pull ends of towel towards you using both hands, gently curling toes towards shin area while keeping heel firmly grounded on floor; hold this position 5-10 seconds then relax muscles and let go; repeat 8-10 times each leg; switch legs after completing all repetitions
- Chair Stretch: Find a sturdy tall chair (make sure any wheels are locked so that it remains stationary). Place ankle of affected leg onto top edge of chair (where seat meets backrest) or simply keep ankle supported by chair if too difficult to place onto edge comfortably without dropping down too much onto crotch area; carefully lean body weight into leg that’s holding onto top edge of chair in order to feel stretch; hold for 10 seconds then relax muscle by straightening leg onto floor
- Plantar Fascia Stretch: Standing upright ensure that spine is straight and good posture is kept throughout entire exercise; cross one ankle over opposite knee – bring weight back slightly over rear end with other hand on thigh for balance protection whilst stretching forward (as if going into lounge type of position); hold this stretch for up to 10 seconds feeling pull along bottom lengthwise section of opposite lower leg – releasing when finished
- Step Down Strengthening Exercise: Stand on affected foot with knee slightly bent – apply pressure down into involved limb then slowly shift weight & allow heel of other outstretched limb slip off step board taking time as calf muscle contracts & expands – pause once completely down maximally 2-3 inches away from starting off point & push upwards against resulting generated force until returning back onto step board again – repeating upwards/downwards action 10 consecutive times before finishing off routine
III. Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening exercises are an important part of plantar fasciitis treatment, as they help to strengthen the muscles in your feet and reduce the strain on the plantar fascia. It is important to remember that when beginning any exercise program it is important to start off lightly and slowly increase intensity and duration as the muscles begin to acclimate. Here are our five favorite strengthening exercises that can supplement your plantar fasciitis treatment routine:
- Toe Curls – Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. With your toes pointed outward, slowly curl them inward until you feel a gentle stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly uncurl your toes back outward and relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times
- Towel Scrunches – Place a small towel on the floor in front of you with one end closer than the other. Begin by gripping the top edge of the closer end using all of your toes while curling them around it so that you pull it toward you like scissors cutting paper. Hold for 10 seconds before releasing and repeating 5-10 times
- Rolling Your Foot – Sit comfortably on a chair as you bring each foot onto a tennis ball or foam roller positioned at one end (this should be placed underneath just behind where each toe joint begins). Slowly move back and forth, side to side or holding still over any particularly painful areas until you’re done with each foot
- Calf Stretch – Stand up straight facing away from a wall with both hands against it at shoulder level (you may want to use a sturdy countertop or kitchen table if walls aren’t readily available). Step forward with one leg while keeping both feet flat against floor then bend that leg slightly as if about to walk up stairs for 8-10 seconds before stepping back into original position and repeating 3-5 times for each leg
- Stair Steps – Stand standing near bottom of staircase then step up onto first step, pushing down through heel before bringing toes onto step’s surface but not past elevation of your heel as this can cause pain or irritation from plantar fasciitis symptoms. Step back down again and repeat 8-10 times
- Toe curls – This exercise helps to alleviate tension in the plantar fascia, by gradually stretching and strengthening the arch of the foot. To do this exercise: Sit in a chair with one foot on the floor and the other elevated on a stool or step. Keep your toes flat and lift your toes up towards you as far as you can, hold for a few seconds and then release. Repeat 10-15 times. This stretching exercise can be done multiple times daily for maximum relief from pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
- Toe stretches – Similar to toe curls, toe stretches involve lifting all of your toes up towards your heel with your feet firmly planted on the ground, tensing as much as possible in order to stretch out your entire arch area. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds at a time before releasing to help stretch out and strengthen weak areas around the arch of your foot, reducing discomfort from plantar fasciitis symptoms.
- Ankle circles – Movements like ankle circles help to relieve tightness in muscles and tendons all around your Achilles tendon area caused by stiff, damaged tissues common in those suffering from plantar fasciitis pain relief or prevention programs. Stand upright, feet apart at hip width with both arms extended outwards (or held onto a railing if needed). With one foot firmly planted on the ground move just the ankle joint in circles moving clockwise 10-20 times before switching directions and circling anti-clockwise another 10 times or until tightness is loosened up sufficiently before swapping feet over and repeating with other ankle joint too if needed.
- Eversion Stretch – Make sure that you are reclined comfortably before performing this stretch correctly; start off sitting down firstly with both feet flat on either side of a rolled up towel placed along across both heals anchor securely under them such that tension creates an effective stretch along sole of each foot when moving lower legs en masse later during actual exercise phase thus helping reduce stress along inflamed regions around plantar fascia accordingly when doing so properly throughout workout session eventually thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter thereafter.
- Towel pickups are a great exercise for plantar fasciitis relief because they help to activate your small foot muscles and encourage them to engage in order to maintain your balance while lifting and releasing the towel. To do this exercise, try the following steps:
- Lay a large hand or bath towel on the ground in front of you.
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and toes pointing ahead, directly above the center of the towel.
- Bend down carefully at the knees and pick up an edge of one side of the towel using both hands as close together as possible. Try to keep your back straight (avoid hunching over) throughout this exercise — if you find it difficult to do so, then widen your feet stance slightly until comfortable.
- Keeping a firm grip on the towel, slowly lift it off the floor by rising up onto your toes with both feet evenly, until you reach near full contraction of calf muscles; hold for 3-5 seconds before lowering back down with control into original starting position — be sure to do this slowly in order to generate muscle tension and strength gains appropriately.
- Repeat 10 times per side (one set), trying not to pause between reps and aiming for 3 sets in total; perform every day for maximum benefit if possible!
Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercises
Low-impact cardio exercises can be beneficial for those suffering from plantar fasciitis. These types of exercises put less strain on the feet and ankles, allowing for better circulation and lessened foot pain. The best low-impact cardiovascular exercises for plantar fasciitis include walking, swimming, cycling, water aerobics, elliptical machines and stair climbers.
When engaging in these low-impact exercises, be mindful of foot placement to avoid damage to the fascia in the feet. Always wear supportive shoes when exercising and ensure that your movements are safe and not painful. If discomfort or pain is experienced at any time during exercise, immediately stop the activity being done to prevent further injury or damage.
Cycling is a great exercise to help with plantar fasciitis relief. It offers an aerobic workout that is low impact and generally easier on joints than jogging or running. It also strengthens the calf muscles and arch of the foot, increasing support for the plantar fascia itself.
When cycling for plantar fasciitis relief, a stationary recumbent bike is recommended since it allows you to rest your foot flat on the pedals. For best results, ride for 15 minutes at a moderate to high level of intensity several times per week.
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise for relieving the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. In the water, the pressure on your feet is significantly reduced and the buoyancy helps to relieve tension. Most types of swimming are helpful, but some are better than others.
Breaststroke is a particularly good way to minimize stress on your feet as you will be pushing off with both feet while simultaneously keeping your toes pointed upwards, which helps stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscle. Other swimming strokes will also help – backstroke can help stretch out tight muscles in your calves and ankles while freestyle increases flexibility in those areas.
If dry land exercises cause too much pain, try substituting them with laps in the pool!
Yoga and Pilates Exercises
Yoga and Pilates exercises have been found to help provide relief from plantar fasciitis-related pain. These types of exercise can help improve flexibility, balance, and overall strength in the feet, ankles, hips and knees. They also enhance core stability which helps reduce your risk of developing other foot or leg conditions associated with plantar fasciitis. Additionally, yoga and Pilates can help restore energy balance by releasing tension in the body.
When doing yoga or Pilates to target plantar fasciitis symptoms, focus on stretching the calf muscles, forearm flexors and toes as well as engages the core muscles for proper posture. Here are five exercises to include in your practice:
-Downward Dog: This pose helps stretch the entire back of the lower leg from your ankle up to your mid thigh. Start upright on hands and knees before relaxing into this posture for three deep breaths.
-Low Lunge With a Twist: This pose will lengthen the calf muscle on one side while helping release tightness in both hips for improved balance. To do this exercise try squatting down with hands at heart’s center before standing back up with one leg bent forward at 90° while twisting.
Downward dog pose
Downward dog pose, also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit, is a staple of many forms of yoga. It is used both as a transition pose to other poses, and as a pose in its own right. It has multiple benefits, and is particularly helpful for relieving the pain associated with plantar fasciitis due to the way it elongates and stretches the Achilles tendon, calf muscle and plantar fascia.
To do this exercise, start by getting on all fours on your mat with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Place you feet hip-width apart facing away from you. Engage your core muscles by lifting through the navel towards the spine, then carefully press into hands to lift buttocks upwards towards the ceiling whilst straightening legs as much as possible. Push firmly into hands with fingers spread wide before pressing outwards through heels allowing for a flat back position of the head, neck and torso away from one another creating an upside down V shape with your body called “Downward Dog”
Keep awareness of breath which should be of calm even qualities throughout this pose whilst releasing tension found on any area of tightness within lower limbs in particular calves & backs feet & arch area. To stay in this posture dependant on comfort levels aim to hold between 3-5 breaths before coming out when ready move back carefully into starting position all fours making sure not to collapse upper body or thrust backward until returning onto mat.
Standing forward bend
When it comes to relieving the pain of plantar fasciitis, the standing forward bend is a great exercise for stretching out the plantar fascia. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, then bend your knees and slowly hinge forward to let your torso hang down. Alternatively, you can place your head on a yoga block or other elevated surfaces to tilt it even further. Make sure not to round the spine — keep it straight while letting your back stretch and relax. Breath into these stretches and you should feel a gentle tension in the bottom of your feet and soles of the feet that signals that you are stretching out the plantar fascia deeply.
Hold this position for 10 – 15 seconds, working up gradually to 30 seconds as you become more comfortable with the exercise.
When living with plantar fasciitis, it is important to make sure it is managed properly to prevent further pain and suffering. The 5 exercises outlined in this article have the potential to provide relief and aid towards recovery, but should always be used under the supervision of a physician or physical therapist.
Use these exercises in combination with cold compresses or over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation, and make sure to consult with your physician for further advice. With proper care and regularly maintained exercise routines, plantar fasciitis can be managed successfully.
- Best Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint
- Best Nike Shoe For Plantar Fasciitis
- Best Men’s Sandals For Plantar Fasciitis
- Best House Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
- Best Hoka For Plantar Fasciitis