Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises

Tamsen Butler
Contributor: Del Sandeen
Highlighted joints in a runner's foot

Plantar Fasciitis should be evaluated by a physician to ensure heel pain is the result of this condition and not something else. Stretching can reduce the discomfort and may even help reduce the inflammation enough to resolve the condition entirely.

Relieve Discomfort With Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises will likely help relieve discomfort, but cardio and resistance exercises accompanied by a caloric deficit can help you lose fat and accelerate your recovery since less pressure will be on the plantar fascia overall. Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, but never to pain. Stretch twice daily for best results.

Tennis Ball Assisted Stretch

The pressure you apply, combined with the resistance of the tennis ball, helps stretch and relax the foot.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back in a neutral position.
  2. Place a tennis ball under your foot.
  3. Slowly roll the tennis ball back and forth under your foot, making sure your entire foot goes over it.

Towel Assisted Stretch

Keep a towel near your bed to do this stretch when you awaken and before you go to sleep for the night.

  1. Place the towel under your foot, with your foot placed around the middle of the towel.
  2. With your heel down on the towel and your toes pointed upward, gather the towel to fold it in half, pulling your foot into a flexed (dorsiflexion) position.
  3. Relax your toes to allow them to stretch too as you pull on the towel, forcing your toes toward your shin.

Wall Assisted Calf Stretch

Stretching your calves can help relieve some of the discomfort in your heel.

  1. Facing a wall, stagger your legs one in front of the other as if they were readying to do a shortened lunge. Your affected heel should be in the back.
  2. Place your hands on the wall, keeping your arms lengthened.
  3. Bend the leg in front, pushing toward the wall.
  4. Keep your back foot on the ground, allowing the heel to stretch.

Frozen Water Bottle Stretch

A frozen water bottle helps massage the affected tissue while also providing the benefit of ice's numbing effects on pain.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back in a neutral position.
  2. Place a frozen water bottle horizontally under your foot.
  3. Slowly roll the bottle back and forth under your foot, stopping if the cold becomes uncomfortable and not exceeding 20 minutes.

Seated Towel Stretch

A towel can provide a deeper stretch without causing you to strain and can be helpful if flexibility is an issue.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back in a neutral position.
  2. Fold a towel into a belt or strap and place it under the arch of your affected foot, drawing your knee toward your chest.
  3. Pull the towel toward you, stretching the top of the foot.

Stair Stretch

The edge of a stairway step (or even a curb) can provide a deep stretch.

  1. Stand on the edge of a stair step with the back part of your affected foot hanging off halfway.
  2. Gently lower yourself until the back of your foot is below the edge of the stair.
  3. Raise yourself back up and repeat.

Seated Toe Pull

Take advantage of any seated barefoot moment to do this stretch.

  1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back in a neutral position.
  2. Cross your affected foot over your other leg and point your heel to the ground and toes to the ceiling (your foot faces away from you).
  3. Grasp the big toe of your affected foot and pull it back toward the top of your foot. Release and repeat.

Easy Morning Stretch

Before getting out of bed, do this quick, easy stretch that requires no equipment.

  1. Lying on your back, flex your foot to where the toes pull back toward your shin.
  2. Point your toes like a ballerina (plantar flexion).
  3. Alternate between the flexing and pointing, giving your heel a good stretch.

Holding Stretches

Speak with your physician or physical therapist regarding the quantity and duration of your stretches, as this can vary according to the severity of the condition and the abilities of the individual. In general, striving for a 10 second stretch, 10-15 times, twice a day, can be quite beneficial in easing discomfort.

Simple Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis

Stretching exercises are most effective when repeated daily. You may find you don't need additional treatment just by taking these steps. While this is no overnight cure, with diligence and patience, you may be able to relieve your heel pain yourself.

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Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises