If you’ve ever experienced plantar fasciitis, you know it’s a pain you don’t want to have to deal with ever again. The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the foot, near the heel or arch. This pain is often worse in the morning, especially for the first few steps which can feel sharp and jabbing. As the day progresses, the pain becomes a dull ache.
This pain is caused by an overly tight plantar fascia (the ligament that connects your heel and toes). Putting too much stress on this ligament causes inflammation, tiny tears, and pain.
People with a high risk for the condition include athletes, runners, joggers, and jumpers. The condition makes the foot ache after working out – but not while exercising. Other risks for plantar fasciitis include:
- Walking with an abnormal gait
- Wearing ill-fitting or heavily worn shoes
- Spending most of the day standing
- Weight issues
- Flat feet
- Having diabetes
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, one of the best ways to get relief is with stretches that target the area giving you trouble.
Loosening the plantar fascia can prevent it from tearing, strengthen the supporting muscles, help reduce stress on the ligament, and reduce inflammation.
Exercises to Help Relieve Plantar Fasciitis
- Tennis Ball Roll
While seated, grab a tennis ball and put it under your foot. Gently roll the ball underneath your foot’s arch. Perform this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat this exercise 2x per day.
- Towel Stretch
While sitting, wrap a towel around your foot. Extend your leg in front of you and gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your leg stable, so your toes point towards you. You should feel your calf muscle stretch. Hold the position for 45 seconds. Repeat. Perform this exercise multiple times a day.
- Toe Stretch
In a seated position, push your leg out so that just your heel is on the floor. Bend forward and touch your big toe. While doing this, flex your ankle up so that it pulls away from the floor. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, take a break and repeat it 2 to 4 more times. Perform this exercise 2 to 4 times a day.
- Calf Stretch
Stand facing a wall with one foot in front of the other (the back foot should be the one with plantar fasciitis). Keeping the back leg straight, lean your weight forward, bending into the front knee. Make sure your back heel stays on the ground, stretching your calf muscle. Hold this position for about 45 seconds, take a break and repeat 2 to 3 more times. Repeat this exercise a few times across the day.
Other ways to help alleviate symptoms are making sure your shoes fit properly, using over-the-counter shoe inserts or doctor prescribed orthotic devices, and even night splints. If the pain continues, see your doctor and be sure to follow their recommendations.