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The 4 Best Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Dr. Eman Elmi
June 25, 2023
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Plantar fasciitis, also called plantar heel pain, is a condition affecting the connective tissue around the foot's arch. This connective tissue called the plantar fascia, connects the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis can be very painful, but with the right exercises, relief can be in sight. Here are four of the best practices for plantar fasciitis relief.

Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

Plantar fasciitis symptoms generally center around the bottom of the affected foot near the heel. This is typically associated with a stabbing pain strongest the first few steps after awakening. It can also be triggered by long periods of standing or getting up from a sitting position.

If this pain is ongoing, extreme, or increases in intensity, you should make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist. They can properly diagnose your plantar fasciitis and recommend treatment options.

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment

Plantar fasciitis treatment should target the affected foot and heel in question. Healthy feet and ankles start with good-fitting footwear. Buy shoes with proper heel and arch support and minimal flexion, and replace them once worn down. This will protect your foot from the rigorous activity that can lead to the plantar fascia being injured.

Stretches can also help reduce this pain before and after exercises as part of warmup and cooldown routines. Regular resting will also help encourage recovery and reduce pain.

In other cases, your doctor may prescribe medication, custom orthotics, physical therapy, or even possibly surgery for treatment. Most of these situations have other complicating factors or are exceptionally severe.

4 of the Best Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Since stretching is one of the best plantar fasciitis treatments, here are four stretches that can help relieve the pain.

1. “Hold the Reins”

To perform this stretch, get a bath towel handy and sit on a mat or the floor. You can use an exercise band instead of the towel but do not pull it too tautly. Sit on the floor with your injured leg stretched in front of you. Loop the towel around your injured foot, then grab hold of the towel or band with bond hands. Keep your knee straight and gently pull your foot towards you like holding onto a horse’s reins. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, relax, then repeat three times.

This exercise stretches the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon, posterior tibial and tibialis anterior tendons, and other intrinsic muscles in the area.

2. Crossover Fascia Stretch

To perform this stretch, sit in a chair and cross your injured foot over the other knee. Grab your toes and gently pull them towards the shin until you feel the arch stretching. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and repeat it three times. Since this has you holding the affected foot, you have a lot of control over how much you stretch it.

3. Reach and Stretch

If you’re already in a sturdy chair from the crossover fascia stretch, it can be easy to transition to this. Stand next to the chair with your injured leg farther from it. Standing on the wounded foot, bend the knee slightly. Raise the foot's arch while keeping the big toe on the floor. Keeping the foot in this position, bend your waist and reach forward with the far hand. Avoid bending the knee any further, do two sets of 15 each. If you want the exercise to be more difficult, reach farther in front of you.

In addition to working the plantar fascia, this stretch affects the medial gastrocnemius.

4. Frozen Water Bottle Roll

Ice reduces inflammation and swelling, and this stretch is a great way to ice your plantar fasciitis injury while also stretching it. Freeze a bottle of water for this exercise. If the bottle’s too cold for your foot, wear socks to put a layer between you and the ice. If it’s still too cold, you can substitute a tennis ball for the bottle and perform the stretch similarly.

Sit down or hold onto a sturdy item for support (like a chair) to begin the stretch. Place your bare foot on the bottle and slowly roll your foot back and forth. This relieves the area and, after the water thaws, becomes a cool refreshing drink!

Treat Your Plantar Fasciitis at Diablo Foot and Ankle

While it can be a painful condition, several treatment options are available for people suffering from plantar fasciitis. Diablo Valley residents struggling with plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions have a solution in Diablo Foot and Ankle. Our friendly board-certified podiatric specialists can answer any other questions and help with treatment options specialized to your needs. Contact us today to get started!

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