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Top 5 Plantar Fasciitis Exercises To Help You Find Relief

Top 5 Plantar Fasciitis Exercises to Help You Find Relief

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common reasons people visit a sports medicine specialist. This foot condition is said to show up in about ten percent of the population and is most prevalent in those who are active runners and dancers. Additionally, plantar fasciitis may also be found in people who are overweight or have jobs that require them to be on their feet for long periods of time. However, plantar fasciitis exercises can be beneficial.

Most cases of plantar fasciitis are successfully treated with a combination of exercises and stretches, along with other conservative measures such as shoe inserts or orthotics. Surgery is rarely needed and is only considered when all other plantar fasciitis treatment options have failed. Doing exercises to stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia is often the best place to start when looking for relief from plantar fasciitis.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a long, thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes. It forms the arch of your foot and acts as a shock absorber to help you walk and run smoothly. Plantar fasciitis is caused when this tissue becomes overstretched or torn.

When this happens, your plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed, causing heel pain and soft tissue tenderness. However, these are not the only plantar fasciitis symptoms you may experience.

Other plantar fasciitis symptoms include:

  • Pain in the arch of your foot
  • Stiffness in your foot, especially first thing in the morning
  • Tightness in your Achilles tendon and calf muscles
  • Dull pain that gets worse with activity
  • Heel spurs

If your plantar fascia is severely damaged or torn, you may also experience a sharp pain in the heel, making it difficult to walk or even stand. To treat the condition, your doctor will likely administer a corticosteroid injection and recommend you wear a boot to immobilize your foot. 

Plantar Fasciitis Exercises to Try at Home

Before beginning any of the plantar fasciitis exercises below, it is crucial to warm up your muscles. In addition, plantar fasciitis exercises and stretches should be done slowly at first and gradually increase as your foot strengthens. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have plantar fasciitis or heel pain.

1. Heel Raises

One of the best plantar fasciitis exercises is also one of the simplest. Heel raises are a great way to stretch and strengthen your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. The great thing about heel raises is that they may be done just about anywhere and don’t require special equipment.

To do a heel raise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold on to a stable object for balance
  • Slowly raise your heels until you are standing on your toes
  • Hold the position for 3-4 seconds, then lower your heels back to the starting position
  • Repeat the exercise 15 times for two sets

As the exercise becomes easier and your plantar fasciitis pain starts to subside, you can add weight by holding a dumbbell in each hand for an extra challenge. Furthermore, doing heel raises with your heels hanging off the edge of a step will also help to stretch your plantar fascia.

2. Calf Stretches

2. Calf Stretches

Having tight calf muscles is one of the leading causes of plantar fasciitis. This is because tight calf muscles put extra strain on your plantar fascia, which may lead to small tears and inflammation. As a result, it is important to stretch your calf muscles to help relieve plantar fasciitis pain.

To do a calf stretch:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on a wall or a stable object,such as a chair, for balance.
  • Keeping your back heel on the ground, slowly lunge forward until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each leg

If you want a more intense stretch, try doing the calf stretch with your back leg raised on a step. Be sure to hold on to a stable object for balance and only stretch as far as you can without pain.

3. Towel Stretches

Towel stretches are a simple exercise you can do at home to stretch your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. This exercise is also great for reducing morning heel pain before you start your day.

To do a towel stretch:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and a towel looped around the ball of your foot
  • Holding on to both ends of the towel, gently pull your foot towards you until you feel a stretch in your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscle
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each leg

This stretch may be done with a resistance band, belt, or any other type of long, stretchy material if you don’t have a towel handy. Doing this exercise a couple of times per day may help to reduce plantar fasciitis pain.

4. Toe Extensions

4. Toe Extensions

Toe extensions help stabilize your plantar fascia and are a great way to stretch and strengthen your foot muscles. This plantar fasciitis exercise is often recommended by physical therapists and can be done almost anywhere.

To do a toe extension:

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Place your left foot on your right thigh
  • Pull your toes up towards your shin until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your foot.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times on each leg

As you do this exercise, you may also massage the plantar fascia with your fingers to help loosen any tightness or knots. Be careful not to over-stretch, as this could aggravate your plantar fasciitis.

5. Toe Curls

5. Toe Curls

Toe curls help to strengthen your feet and toes, improve your balance, and increase support in the arch of your foot. In addition, by increasing the foot’s flexibility, toe curls may help you find relief from heel pain and stiffness.

To do a toe curl:

  • Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Place a small towel on the floor in front of you
  • Using your toes, curl the towel towards you until it is all bunched up
  • Hold the towel in your toes for a few seconds, then release and let it go back to its original position
  • Repeat this exercise ten times on each foot

You can also do this plantar fasciitis exercise by picking up small objects such as marbles or pebbles with your toes. To get the most out of this exercise, keep your heel firmly planted on the floor.

Treat Your Plantar Fasciitis at NJ Spine and Wellness

While these plantar fasciitis exercises may help you find relief from your heel pain, it is crucial to visit Dr. Ammar Saymeh, your foot and ankle specialist at NJ Spine and Wellness. At NJ Spine and Wellness, Dr. Saymeh will develop a treatment plan that includes state-of-the-art treatments and therapies including custom orthotics, taping and physical therapy to help you get better faster. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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