Anyone who has suffered from Plantar Fasciitis knows it is an uncomfortable and painful ailment. Commonly called “Jogger’s Heel or “Plantar Fasciopathy” this condition is the most frequent kind of heel pain that people visit their doctor for.
When a person has this condition, it can make even walking the shortest distance an excruciating experience.
Why Does Plantar Fasciitis Occur?
Plantar Fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue situated on the bottom of the foot, responsible for connecting the heel bone to the toes, becomes irritated and inflamed.
Symptoms include a stabbing sensation with every step. This inflammation commonly plagues ballet dancers, aerobic fanatics, soldiers, runners, and individuals who spend hours on their feet every day. It often affects individuals who are middle aged (presenting between ages 40 – 60 in many cases) however, younger individuals can suffer from it as well.
Those who are overweight and addicted to wearing high-heels or unsupportive footwear may be more susceptible.
The plantar fascia behaves similar to a shock absorber for your body weight. When it becomes strained however, inflammation occurs and minute tears can develop.
Typically, the sharp heel pain is worse first thing in the morning upon waking. It tends to become less pronounced as the body warms up and moves during the day. It can return with severity after prolonged sitting or periods of rest.
Obviously, we rely on our feet to support our entire body weight and transport us every day, therefore, this can be a tricky condition to deal with. Check out this informative article here.
Plantar Fasciitis Exercises To Relieve and Eliminate Pain
Thankfully, there are certain steps you can take to strengthen the plantar fascia and help facilitate the healing process. Remember to go slow and listen to your body as you complete these exercises.
Prior to starting any kind of stretching, it is recommended to warm up your body. This will increase your blood flow and deliver oxygen and nutrients via your blood to the inflamed areas. It is well known that exercising tissues once they are warm greatly reduces the risk of injury.
Gradually strengthening and stretching the intricate muscles of your ankles and feet will help the plantar fascia regain its strength and increase overall flexibility.
Try setting your alarm a few minutes earlier than normal. Jumping out of bed to start your day can be one of the worst habits for those suffering from plantar fasciitis. Besides, you can wake up in the most optimistic, excellent mood, only to suddenly feel discouraged and depressed within the first few steps out of bed when that heel pain takes over.
Allow yourself time to wake up slowly. Treat your feet to a gentle massage to warm up the plantar fascia and stimulate blood flow to the area. Concentrate your massage on rubbing across the width of the plantar fascia. Next, try pointing and flexing your feet in a slowly controlled manner. Try completing at least 30 times per foot before rising.
A great resource to check out is Sport Physiotherapist Pat Stanziano’s YouTube Video showcasing his top 6 exercises for alleviating the pain of plantar fasciitis; each he recommends doing 30 times. He calls it his 6/30 routine and explains the benefits of completing it prior to stepping out of bed.
1.Keep a towel at your bedside, in your car and at your desk. Doing some towel stretches upon waking and throughout the day will greatly improve your overall mobility.
2.Use the rolled up towel to gently stretch the bottom of your foot.
3.Place the center of your foot onto the towel and push carefully. Only go as far as you can and start slowly. Strengthening the bottom of your foot with towel exercises will help you build resilience. You should feel a pulling sensation if you are doing it correctly but not pain.
Tennis Ball Foot Massage Trick
- Remove your shoes and slowly roll your foot against a tennis ball from heel to toe, back and forth. This exercise is simultaneously relaxing and stimulating. It will increase blood flow to the plantar fascia and provide relief.
- Alternatively, you can try a frozen water bottle or a golf ball for different massage benefits.
View this video to see this exercise in action along with other helpful tips.
- Carry a package of marbles around with you in a Ziploc bag. Alternatively, you can keep some at your desk at work.
- Have a paper cup or another “goal” handy.
- Practice picking up the marbles using only your toes and transferring them into the cup. Try this during lunch hour for some midday exercise.
- Stand on the top stair and carefully hold onto the railing.
- Inch your heels off of the stairs until you are only standing on the balls of your feet.
- Lower yourself down comfortably and stretch your calf muscles. Hold for 10 seconds.
- Slowly raise your body until you are level again. Repeat to strengthen your feet, legs and ankle muscles. This can easily be done in the comfort of your home or in the office stairwell.
- Use a towel or any material you have handy (jacket, sweater, pantyhose) and place it on the floor in front of you.
- Use your toes to inch the material towards you until the entire length is in a pile. This is a wonderful strengthening exercise to help release the inflammation in the plantar fascia and rebuild your strength.
Achilles Tendon Wall Stretch
- Place palms on a wall and lean forward.
- Bend one knee and keep other leg with the knee straight and the heel flat on the ground. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
- Alternate legs and aim to complete this stretch 3 to 6 times each day.
Try Wearing a Night Splint While Sleeping
Night splints work by stabilizing the foot and ankle in a position that keep the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon in a mildly stretched position. Many people report a much easier start to their day after sleeping with one of these on.
Avoid Running and Heel Slamming Exercises
While you are trying to heal your plantar fasciitis, try to avoid jogging, exercise classes or dance routines that make your heel abruptly hit a hard surface.
Change Your Footwear
If you are wearing shoes with minimal arch support, hard soles or extreme heels, you will only aggravate your plantar fasciitis. Avoid being barefoot on concrete and solid surfaces. Try to get some supportive shoes. Rubber soles and good shock absorbing footwear are comfortable and realistic choices. Read our Plantar Fasciitis shoes guide
It can be easy to become frustrated and depressed when you feel like you have to give up your favorite hobbies and sports. Remember, the sooner you start treating, the faster you will help your body heal. Ignoring the problem can potentially lead to a greater degree of injury occurring.
You do not have to spend copious amounts of money on orthotics, braces and pain medication. Commit to doing the above mentioned exercises on a daily basis and watch yourself feel better soon!
Additional resources and information can be found at: