5 Exercises to Help Treat Plantar Fasciitis - PT Effect

5 Exercises to Help Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Exercises and Stretches You Can Do at Home
Mar 30, 2021

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the band of tissue running through the middle of your foot to connect the heel to the toes. It’s a very common orthopedic condition, with approximately one in ten people suffering from it. The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber when you walk and so it can undergo a lot of wear and tear just in daily life.

Plantar fasciitis can be painful, particularly at the heel or in the middle of the foot. Treatments for plantar fasciitis can include:

  • Rest
  • Using a brace
  • Icing
  • Surgery
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Ultrasound
  • Stretching
  • Foot exercises

Physical therapy is an excellent way to treat plantar fasciitis. Your physical therapist can show you exercises and stretches that you can do at home to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis.

Man stretching calf muscles

Does Stretching My Calf Muscles Help with Plantar Fasciitis?

An easy stretch you can do at home is a calf stretch. To stretch your calves:

  • Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall
  • Place one foot close to the wall in front of the other foot
  • Bend the front knee and place your hands against the wall
  • Keep the heel of the back foot on the floor
  • Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds
  • Do the stretch at least three times on the same foot
  • Switch your feet and repeat the stretch

Will Stretching My Toes Help with Plantar Fasciitis?

Stretching your foot through your toes can also help alleviate plantar fasciitis pain. To perform this stretch, sit down and cross one of your legs over the other. Then, keeping your foot flexed, grasp your big toe and pull it towards you, stretching the foot. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds. After doing the stretch at least three times, switch feet.

The most important thing is to stretch your plantar fascia. How you do it may depend on what works best for you. Your physical therapist may be able to recommend stretches for you to do at home.

A seated person with plantar fasciitis using one heel to stretch the toes on the other foot

Can Using a Roller Help with Plantar Fasciitis?

Another exercise that you can do at home to alleviate the pain from plantar fasciitis is to use a roller. If you don’t have a roller, that’s okay. You can use any cylindrical item that’s of an appropriate size. Many people choose to use frozen water bottles because of the added benefit of being able to ice the foot at the same time.

To use a roller (or a frozen water bottle), sit on a chair and set the roller in front of you. Place the foot with plantar fasciitis on the roller. Then, roll your foot back and forth. Switch feet.

Can I Use Bands or a Towel to Stretch My Foot?

Some stretches for plantar fasciitis use props such as exercise bands or a towel. Because exercise bands are stretchier, the actual stretch should be different than if you’re using a towel, but both options will stretch the plantar fascia.

If you’re using exercise bands, you can sit on the floor and stretch one leg out in front of you while keeping the other bent. Put the band around the foot of your outstretched leg and then pull back on the band to stretch out your foot.

If you’re using a towel, you can sit on a chair. Just like with the toe stretch above, cross one leg over the other. Then, loop the towel around the bottom of your foot and pull back on the towel to stretch your foot.

How Can I Ease Plantar Fasciitis Stiffness?

In addition to foot pain, one of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis is stiffness in the foot, particularly when you first get up in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for a while. To combat this stiffness, try picking up small items, such as marbles, with your toes. This can help loosen up the plantar fascia.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS

Founder

Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.


Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC

Co-Founder


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