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Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

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Subject: Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

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About this topic

Plantar fasciitis is swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. This tissue is called the plantar fascia. It connects the heel bone to the toes and makes the arch of the foot. Exercise is an important part of making this problem better. 

General

Before starting with a program, ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to do these exercises. Your doctor may have you work with a trainer or physical therapist to make a safe exercise program to meet your needs. 
Stretching Exercises 
Stretching exercises keep your muscles flexible. They also stop them from getting tight. Start by doing each of these stretches 2 to 3 times. In order for your body to make changes, you will need to hold these stretches for 20 to 30 seconds. Try to do the stretches 2 to 3 times each day. Do all exercises slowly. 
  • Calf stretches standing − Stand about 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) away from a wall. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder level. Lean forward. Stretch your left leg straight behind you. Make sure the heel is flat on the floor and the knee straight. Now, bend the knee of the right leg. Be sure that the heel does not come up. Bend your left knee forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the calf of your right leg. This will feel strange, but it is the best way to stretch this calf muscle. Repeat on the other side.

  • Calf stretches lying down with belt or towel − Lie on your back with both legs straight. Loop a belt or towel around the ball of one foot. Lift the leg up, keeping the knee straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Pull down on the belt or towel to bend your foot more for a better stretch. Repeat on the other foot. This stretch gets both your calf and the hamstrings on the back of your thigh.

  • Calf stretches on stairs − Stand on a step and hold onto a rail. Position your feet so only the balls of your feet are on the step. Lower both heels until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Do not do this stretch if you have trouble with balance.

  • Crossed leg foot stretches − Sit in a chair. Bend one leg up and rest the outside of the foot on the knee. Grab your foot and pull your toes and foot forward until you feel a stretch along the bottom of your foot. Repeat with the other foot.

  • Rolling foot − Use a golf ball, tennis ball, soup can, a frozen water bottle, or a rolling pin for this exercise. Sit in a sturdy chair. Put the ball, can, or rolling pin underneath your sore foot. Push down firmly and roll it back and forth with your foot for 1 to 2 minutes. Work up to 3 to 4 minutes. If this exercise is too easy, try doing it while standing up with more pressure on the foot. Do this exercise last if you use a frozen water bottle. Heated tissue stretches better than cold tissue. Doing this last with a frozen water bottle can help lessen the pain and swelling that may happen with stretching.

Strengthening Exercises 
Strengthening exercises keep your muscles firm and strong. Start by repeating each exercise 2 to 3 times. Work up to doing each exercise 10 times. Try to do the exercises 2 to 3 times each day. Do all exercises slowly. 
  • Towel pick-ups − Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Make sure you do not have shoes or socks on your feet. Place a towel under one foot with one end of the towel lined up with your heel. Keep your heel on the floor and try grabbing the towel with your toes. Gradually work it back until there is no more towel to move. Now, try pushing the towel back out while keeping your heel still. You can make this harder by putting a small weight on the end of the towel.

Image(s)

These are 2 images of a man stretching his calf while standing. In the first image, his left leg is straight and the foot is flat on the floor, the right knee is bent and the man is leaning into the wall. The second image shows the man in the same position, with the left knee slightly bent as well.

These are 2 images of a man stretching his calf while standing. In the first image, his left leg is straight and the foot is flat on the floor, the right knee is bent and the man is leaning into the wall. The second image shows the man in the same position, with the left knee slightly bent as well.

This is an image of a woman lying down on her back. She has a belt around the ball of her right foot. There is a callout showing her using the belt to pull her right foot back towards her head.

This is an image of a woman lying down on her back. She has a belt around the ball of her right foot. There is a callout showing her using the belt to pull her right foot back towards her head.

This is an image of a woman standing on the first step of a set of stairs. She is standing on the balls of her feet with her heels extending over the edge of the step. She is holding on to the handrail. There is a callout showing her lowering her heels over the edge of the step.

This is an image of a woman standing on the first step of a set of stairs. She is standing on the balls of her feet with her heels extending over the edge of the step. She is holding on to the handrail. There is a callout showing her lowering her heels over the edge of the step.

This is an image of a man sitting in a chair with legs crossed, his left foot resting on his right knee. He is holding his left heel in his right hand and is using his left hand to stretch his toes back towards the top of his foot.

This is an image of a man sitting in a chair with legs crossed, his left foot resting on his right knee. He is holding his left heel in his right hand and is using his left hand to stretch his toes back towards the top of his foot.

This is an image of a man sitting up straight in a chair with his bare feet on the floor. He has a tennis ball under the middle of his right foot. There is a callout showing him moving his foot forward and backward over the ball.

This is an image of a man sitting up straight in a chair with his bare feet on the floor. He has a tennis ball under the middle of his right foot. There is a callout showing him moving his foot forward and backward over the ball.

This is an image of a man sitting up straight in a chair with his bare feet on the floor. His foot is resting on a towel, with the heel at the edge of the towel. There is a callout showing him with his heel resting on the ground, moving his toes to pull the towel under this foot. There is another callout showing him with his heel on the ground, using his toes to move the towel out from under his foot.

This is an image of a man sitting up straight in a chair with his bare feet on the floor. His foot is resting on a towel, with the heel at the edge of the towel. There is a callout showing him with his heel resting on the ground, moving his toes to pull the towel under this foot. There is another callout showing him with his heel on the ground, using his toes to move the towel out from under his foot.

What will the results be?

  • Less pain

  • Less pulling

  • Less swelling

  • Better flexibility and range of motion

  • Easier to walk and do other activities

Helpful tips

  • Stay active and work out to keep your muscles strong and flexible.

  • Keep a healthy weight to avoid putting too much stress on your joints. Eat a healthy diet to keep your muscles healthy.

  • Be sure you do not hold your breath when exercising. This can raise your blood pressure. If you tend to hold your breath, try counting out loud when exercising. If any exercise bothers you, stop right away.

  • Always warm up before stretching. Heated muscles stretch much easier than cool muscles. Stretching cool muscles can lead to injury.

  • Try walking or cycling at an easy pace for a few minutes to warm up your muscles. Do this again after exercising.

  • Never bounce when doing stretches.

  • Doing exercises before a meal may be a good way to get into a routine.

  • After exercising, it is a good idea to ice the bottom of your foot. A good way to do this is by sitting in a chair and rolling a frozen water bottle back and forth under your foot. Do not do this longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Exercise may be slightly uncomfortable, but you should not have sharp pains. If you do get sharp pains, stop what you are doing. If the sharp pains continue, call your doctor.

Where can I learn more?

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 
American Family Physician 

Last Reviewed Date

2015-08-17 

List_set bdysylist

  • Exercise

  • Neuromuscular and Skeletal

  • Therapy (Occupational, Physical, Speech, etc)

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. This is only a brief summary of general information. It does NOT include all information about conditions, illnesses, injuries, tests, procedures, treatments, therapies, discharge instructions or life-style choices that may apply to you. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about your health and treatment options. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to accept your health care provider’s advice, instructions or recommendations. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to provide advice that is right for you. 

Copyright

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved. 
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