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Plantar Fasciitis Exercises: Strengthening, Stretching & Prevention

Plantar Fasciitis Exercises: Strengthening, Stretching & Prevention

Apria Editorial |

Plantar fasciitis is a degenerative condition afflicting the band of tissue surrounding the bones on the bottom of the foot, also called plantar fascia. It has been linked to heel discomfort, a higher instance of falling, poorer quality of life, and disability.

The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue that moves through the bottom of your foot. Its function is to support the medial longitudinal and transverse arches. When you take a step, it stretches to accommodate your weight, and then it contracts again to keep your arch in place and support your weight as you walk. As a result, the plantar fascia takes on extra stress while walking and running, making it more vulnerable to damage.

Plantar fasciitis, also known as heel pain, is a common condition that will affect around 10% of the population throughout their lives. This is why ApriaHome has composed this helpful guide to raising awareness and education surrounding this common, treatable, and often preventable condition. Reduce heel pain with the 10 best strengthening and stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis. Keep reading to discover prevention tips and at-home exercises.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

One of the most common complaints diagnosed for heel pain is plantar fasciitis, characterized by the swelling of the broad band of tissue (plantar fascia) across the bottom of the feet, connecting the toes and heel bone.

Small tears in the plantar fascia can be caused by tension and impact. Repeated stretching and tearing of the fascia will irritate or inflame it. However, the origin of most plantar fasciitis diagnoses remains unknown,

Plantar fasciitis symptoms are often characterized by a sharp pain at the bottom of the foot around the heel. The discomfort is typically worst in the first few steps after waking, but it may also be triggered by lengthy durations of standing or rising from a sitting position.

Plantar Fasciitis Massage

Plantar fasciitis discomfort develops from tight and inflamed connective tissue. Massaging the soles of your feet first thing in the morning with your big toe extended will increase circulation, relax the muscles and alleviate symptoms.

Deep tissue massage therapy focuses on using slow, firm strokes to apply pressure to the underlying muscle tissue. It supports the healing process by reducing tension in the foot and loosening up scar tissue. The massage focuses on particular regions of the heel and arch, causing minor discomfort in the days that follow. It is an efficient method of alleviating plantar fasciitis pain and preventing further complications from this painful condition.

Foot Massage

Before doing anything else, apply a mild coat of oil or moisturizer to your hands and feet.

  • Visualize the bottom of your foot as a tic-tac-toe grid. Apply moderate to heavy pressure and massage your foot's arch from heel to toe.
  • Next, move across the width of the arch. You should spend around two minutes massaging each foot. Doing this promotes fascial release, enhancing circulation and lowering tension and rigidity to the plantar fascia.
  • To speed up the recovery process, apply ice to the feet for 15 minutes after massaging them.

Ice Massage

An ice massage can be performed using a frozen water bottle for 10 to 15 minutes at a time by rolling the foot over the bottle and applying pressure. Because ice decreases inflammation and helps muscles relax, it can effectively manage problematic areas after exercise.

Calf Massage

To manage plantar fasciitis, it is important to concentrate on the region of the most acute pain and discomfort, with a secondary emphasis on the surrounding muscle groups. Start on the bottom of the arch near the heel, concentrating on the region where the ligament connects to the heel bone. Then proceed to the Achilles tendon, beginning with the heel and working your way up to the calf.

The muscles in your calves are connected to the plantar fascia through the Achilles tendon. That's why calf massage is a key component of any treatment plan that addresses plantar fasciitis.

  • You can use a massage ball or a foam roller.
  • Carefully rock back and forth as you use your arms to move. Massage the whole length of the calf muscles, from the knee to the Achilles tendon.
  • A more effective massage may be achieved by applying pressure with the opposite leg.
  • Repeat this for 2 minutes once a day.

Massage Safety

Massage therapy for plantar fasciitis is one of the most effective treatments for reducing stiffness, targeting trigger points, and healing persistent pain in the heel. Regular massage treatment, in combination with exercise and stretching, can help you to manage symptoms. When first starting, your priority should be applying massage correctly. It is highly recommended that you seek medical attention if the discomfort does not improve or starts to worsen.

10 Exercises For Plantar Fasciitis

There are a few simple exercises for plantar fasciitis heel pain alleviation and prevention. You can perform these plantar fasciitis exercises at home:

Exercise 1: Towel Stretch

The towel strengthening exercise is the easiest to perform as it allows you to remain seated the entire time. There are two options: the towel stretch and the towel scrunch.

  • Place a towel under your foot arch while sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
  • Slowly and softly, pull back so that your toes come up near your shin. Maintain this position for 10 seconds, then point your toes and hold.
  • Two daily sets of ten reps on each foot are recommended.

Exercise 2: Towel Scrunch

The towel scrunch is also a great towel strengthening exercise that increases strength and balance in the foot.

  • Lay a towel down on the floor while seated on a chair.
  • Place your bare foot on the towel and sit down.
  • Scrunch the towel toward yourself by curling your toes while keeping your foot planted firmly on the ground.

Exercise 3: One Foot Stretch

This simple process is one of many ground-strengthening exercises that can be incorporated into your daily routine.

  • For 5 minutes, twice daily, elevate one foot off the floor while maintaining balance on the other.
  • This is a great exercise to prevent plantar fasciitis because it helps you maintain your balance and strengthens the muscles in your feet and ankles.

Exercise 4: Tiptoes

You can build your calf muscles and your control and stability around your ankles by moving around on your tiptoes a few minutes a day. A walking aid, such as a cane or frame, might help support this exercise.

Exercise 5: Heel Raises

Due to its direct effect on foot motion, the calf muscle plays a role in whether or not plantar fasciitis develops. Calf muscles can be strengthened with basic, straightforward heel raises. Perform three sets of heel lifts with ten reps each every day.

  • Stand up and put both feet down flat on the floor. Hold onto a table or towel rail as support if you need to steady yourself.
  • Start by pushing up through the balls of your feet and then lifting your heels off the floor.
  • Keep your balance on your toes for a few seconds before easing back down.

Step Heel Raises

This simple exercise, similar to the one above, works to strengthen the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

  • Place one foot on a step and the other just over the step's edge.
  • Perform a heel rise while pressing up onto the balls of your feet.
  • Perform ten sets three times a day.

It's important to keep your heel above the step's surface level as you descend.

Exercise 6: Wall Calf Stretches

This exercise for plantar fasciitis stretches the Achilles tendon and calf to improve stability.

  • Stand straight while positioning yourself at arm's length from a wall.
  • Place your hands flat against it.
  • Stretch your calf by lowering your front leg forward and extending one leg straight out behind you.
  • Hold for 20 seconds, then move to the other leg and repeat.

Exercise 7: Ankle Inversion

This exercise plays an important part in ankle strengthening. You will need an elastic training band to perform this stretch.

  • Begin seated on the floor with your legs extended.
  • Tie an elastic training band around your left foot.
  • Cross the left leg over your right.
  • Hold the end of the training band in your palm and wrap it around your lower foot.
  • Slowly rotate your left ankle inward, away from your right foot.
  • This should be performed ten times.
  • Complete two sets with your left foot before switching to your right.

Exercise 8: Foot Rollers

One of the best foot exercises for plantar fasciitis can be performed by rolling a ball beneath your feet for a few minutes each day. This facilitates the effective treatment of plantar fasciitis discomfort.

  • Sit in a chair.
  • Roll a tennis ball or tin can beneath each foot.
  • Ensure you are covering the entire sole of your foot from the heel to toe.

Exercise 9: Arch Raises

The arches of the foot are strengthened and supported by a group of muscles that this plantar fasciitis workout specifically targets.

  • The first step is to sit on a chair with one foot planted firmly on the floor.
  • Contract your muscles and raise your arch off the floor, keeping the heel and ball of your foot firmly planted.
  • Stretch and count for a few seconds and then release.
  • The exercise can be made more challenging in the long run by doing it while standing.
  • Perform daily sessions of approximately a minute for each foot.

Exercise 10: Toe Raises

Toe raises are one of the best exercises for plantar fasciitis. This stretch should be performed many times daily, ideally twice per session.

  • To alleviate plantar fasciitis discomfort, sit on a chair and put your heel on the floor while extending the afflicted leg.
  • Lift your big toe off the ground by reaching down and pulling it up and back toward you.
  • Hold for about thirty seconds.

Self Treatment & Prevention

Some self-treatment measures you can take for plantar fasciitis pain management and prevention:

  • Health And Weight Management: The plantar fascia can encounter additional strain if you're overweight.
  • Correct Shoes: Wear shoes that will keep your feet in place. You should purchase shoes with a moderate or low heel, a thick sole, additional arch support, and additional padding. Avoid going barefoot or wearing flat shoes.
  • Replace Worn-out Shoes: Eventually, an old pair of running shoes will stop supporting and cushioning the feet and will need replacement.
  • Switch Sports: Instead of walking or running, choose a low-impact exercise like swimming or biking.
  • Apply Ice: Cold pressure helps relieve pain and inflammation. Place a cloth-covered ice pack over the affected area for 15 minutes at least 3 times a day.
  • Choose Terrain Wisely: Run on soft, even surfaces to avoid plantar fasciitis. Choose manicured park pathways over sidewalks and a track's turf over the street when possible. Soft surfaces reduce the force your feet receive when they contact the ground, reducing inflammation and stress on your heel and fascia.
  • Don't Over Exert Yourself: Listen to your body and understand your boundaries to avoid plantar fasciitis and other problems. Focus on discomfort and exhaustion as much as your goals to prevent overworking your muscles and tendons. Increase training time and intensity gradually and strategically to prevent burnout.

Take Care Of Your Health And Well-being With Apria Home

A physical therapist can demonstrate techniques to stretch and physical therapy exercises for plantar fasciitis or prescribe treatment to alleviate heel pain medically.

To find more orthopedic therapy options for pain relief, visit here are some pain relief options to consider.

Physical therapists and doctors may prescribe wearing a splint overnight to stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe off-the-shelf or custom-fitted orthotics to relieve foot pressure.

ApriaHome Recommends:

The Formfit Night Splint is meant to help ease the discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis by delivering a gradual nighttime stretch. Adjustable straps can be set from 0-10 as required. The soft, breathable inner and cushioned straps ensure maximum comfort.

Once you have your plantar fasciitis medically reviewed, your doctor may also recommend the use of boots, canes, and crutches to alleviate weight bearing and promote healing.

ApriaHome Recommends:

If left untreated, a patient may require more serious medical treatment or surgery. ApriaHome is passionate about improving the overall quality of life for all Americans by providing premium quality medical equipment, all from the convenience of our online platform. We have taken care to source the best products at the best prices. Our experts are service orientated and ready to answer your questions. Looking for something specific? Get in touch with our call center at 877-731-9698 between 8:00 am - 10:00 pm for more information.


LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Material in this newsletter is only: (1) provided for general health education and informational purposes, and to provide references to other resources; it may not apply to you as an individual. While Apria believes that the information provided through this communication is accurate and reliable, Apria cannot and does not make any such guarantee. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, evaluation, diagnosis, services or treatment (collectively, "medical treatment"). Please see your healthcare provider for medical treatment related to you and your specific health condition(s). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Reading this newsletter should not be construed to mean that you have a healthcare provider/patient relationship with Apria.