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Plantar Fasciitis: Exercises

Overview

Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the ligament that supports your arch. Doing stretching and strengthening exercises can help the ligament become more flexible and make the muscles that support your arch stronger.

Here are some exercises that can help. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist about which exercises are right for you.

How to do exercises for plantar fasciitis

Stretches to do before getting out of bed or after rest

Ankle pump

 
slide 1 of 3
    
slide 1 of 3, Ankle pump,
  1. Lie or sit on a firm surface with your feet out in front of you.
  2. Point your toes and feet up toward your knees as far as you can, then point them away from you as far as you can.
  3. Switch between pointing your feet up and pointing them down.
  4. Do this for 2 to 3 minutes, 2 or 3 times an hour.

Passive toe stretch

 
slide 2 of 3
    
slide 2 of 3, Passive toe stretch,
  1. Sit on the floor, with the heel of your affected foot on the floor. Use one hand to hold your foot steady.
  2. Using the thumb and index (pointing) finger of your other hand, slowly bend your toe forward and then backward. Hold each position for about 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Calf stretch (seated, knee straight)

 
slide 3 of 3
    
slide 3 of 3, Calf stretch (seated, knee straight),
  1. Sit on the floor with your affected leg straight and resting on the floor.
  2. Place a towel around your affected foot.
  3. Hold one end of the towel in each hand.
  4. Pull back gently with the towel so that you feel a stretch in your calf.
  5. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  7. It's a good idea to repeat these steps with your other leg.

Daily exercises

Plantar fascia self-massage

 
slide 1 of 7
    
slide 1 of 7, Plantar fascia self-massage,
  1. Sit in a chair.
  2. Place your foot on a firm, tube-shaped object, such as a can or water bottle.
  3. Roll your foot back and forth over the object to massage the bottom of your foot.
  4. Continue for 2 to 5 minutes.

If you want to do ice massage, fill a water bottle about three-fourths of the way full and freeze before using.

Passive toe stretch

 
slide 2 of 7
    
slide 2 of 7, Passive toe stretch,
  1. Sit on the floor, with the heel of your affected foot on the floor. Use one hand to hold your foot steady.
  2. Using the thumb and index (pointing) finger of your other hand, slowly bend your toe forward and then backward. Hold each position for about 15 seconds.
  3. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Calf stretch (seated, knee straight)

 
slide 3 of 7
    
slide 3 of 7, Calf stretch (seated, knee straight),
  1. Sit on the floor with your affected leg straight and resting on the floor.
  2. Place a towel around your affected foot.
  3. Hold one end of the towel in each hand.
  4. Pull back gently with the towel so that you feel a stretch in your calf.
  5. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  7. It's a good idea to repeat these steps with your other leg.

Calf stretch (back knee straight)

 
slide 4 of 7
    
slide 4 of 7, Calf stretch (back knee straight),
  1. Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall. You can also do this with your hands on the back of a chair, a counter, or a tree.
  2. Put one leg about a step behind your other leg, with your toes pointing forward.
  3. Keeping your back leg straight and your back heel on the floor, bend your front knee and gently bring your hip and chest toward the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg.
  4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times for each leg.

Calf stretch on a step

 
slide 5 of 7
    
slide 5 of 7, Calf stretch on a step,
  1. Stand on the bottom step of a staircase, facing up toward the stairs. Put the balls of your feet on the step. Hold on to the handrail or wall.
  2. Slowly let your heels down over the edge of the step as you relax your calf muscles. You should feel a gentle stretch up the back of your leg to your knee.
  3. Hold the stretch about 15 to 30 seconds, and then tighten your calf muscle a little to bring your heel back up to the level of the step.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Towel scrunch

 
slide 6 of 7
    
slide 6 of 7, Towel scrunch,
  1. Sit in a chair, and place your affected foot on a towel on a hard floor (not a floor with carpet).
  2. Scrunch the towel toward you with your toes. Then use your toes to push the towel back into place.
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  4. It's a good idea to repeat these steps with your other foot.

Make this exercise more challenging by placing a weighted object, such as a soup can, on the other end of the towel.

Marble pickups

 
slide 7 of 7
    
slide 7 of 7, Marble pickups,
  1. Put some marbles, dice, or small smooth rocks on the floor next to a cup.
  2. Sit in a chair, and use the toes of your affected foot to lift up one item from the floor. Then try to put the item in the cup.
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  4. It's a good idea to repeat these steps with your other foot.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: July 17, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
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