For those suffering from plantar fasciitis, taking the first step in the morning after you get off your bed is quite a task. Doctors recommend regular stretches and exercises for keeping the plantar fascia ligament in check.
However, routine checkups with the doctor, going to the physiotherapists with appointments, can be very difficult to cope with our busy lifestyles. You’d end up missing a session or two, not take good care of your feet and in the end, suffer from a stabbing pain below your feet with each step.
But, we decided to fix this issue for good. We spoke to experts and podiatrists in the field and have, therefore, listed the easiest stretches and exercises with step by step instructions that you can follow at home.
These exercises are proven to relieve pain and improve your feet health due to plantar fasciitis and work as a blessing for those with acute pain in the feet. Want to know more? Read on to find out all about plantar fasciitis and some easy exercises you can perform to prevent it from recurring.
Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis does not happen overnight but is a result of several months and years that can cause the condition. Here is what you need to know that keeps you at risk of plantar fasciitis:
Most of us are prone to develop some of the other feet condition with growing age. With age, our skin starts sagging and all the cushioning of the skin below the feet is lost. The cushioning provides good shock absorbance and does not directly impact the plantar fascia ligament and the connected muscles and nerves.
With growing age, as we lose stability over our feet, even the slightest impact can cause a stabbing pain. If it is so, then you are likely a victim of plantar fasciitis. Hence with growing age, it is advised to wear supportive shoes and orthopedic slippers for ease of walking and activity.
If you are overweight, you are at high risk of developing plantar fasciitis. This is because most of the weight of your body is borne by your feet. Excessive bodyweight-only pressurizes your feet to an extent that it overstretch your plantar fascia beyond limits and causes pain.
You must follow a strict diet and keep a watch on your weight because you may have limited exercise and activity allowed, which would directly impact your weight loss process.
Excessive activity on the feet like long hours of standing and walking, running in the case of athletes, heavy impact exercises can directly affect the plantar fascia ligament. Your fascia gets overstretched and cannot bear the pressure anymore.
This is very common in the case of retail shop workers, construction site workers, athletes, runners, etc. For those whose profession involves long hours of standing with plantar fasciitis, you can check out a range of customized shoes for plantar fasciitis here.
Some people have natural deformities in their feet like high arches, extremely flat feet, arthritis in the knees, toes, and ankles, or some underlying conditions or injuries that can directly impact the plantar fascia. Since it is a ligament that connects the heel to the toes, it basically supports the entire feet including the ankles and the calves.
Alongside, if your plantar flexor muscles are weak, they cause pain while being stretched and are under extreme strain while performing any activity. People with such deformities should opt for supportive shoes or slippers. You can find a range of plantar fasciitis slippers here.
Ill fitted shoes are one of the biggest reasons for plantar fasciitis. These shoes have non-supportive, open, and non-protective designs that do not help your feet in any way and cause pain in the long run. These shoes are meant for style and “not support”, due to which, the plantar fascia gets overstretched and fatigued when you wear shoes with heels and non-supportive patterns.
Therefore, for people suffering from plantar fasciitis, you must wear shoes that support your arch and heel and are moderately cushioned for good shock absorbance. If you do not like the idea of wearing closed shoes for too long, you can also get flip flops with arch support that are comfortable and keep your feet feeling free.
Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis
For maintaining your feet health and for relief from plantar fasciitis, we have listed 7 easy to do exercises that you can perform anywhere, anytime at your ease:
1. Rolling Stretch
This is a fun exercise that you can do. All you need is a chair, a tennis ball or a roller foam, or a bottle of frozen water.
How to do:
- Sit on a chair or perform this by standing if your pain is not very severe.
- Place the tennis ball under one foot and roll it back and forth under your feet.
- Roll it across the ball of the foot and towards the heel and vice versa.
- Repeat this motion 10-15 times for each foot, with two sets per foot.
- You can use a frozen water bottle as ice also helps in reducing inflammation and provides more coverage over the feet as compared to a tennis ball.
- Apply slight pressure on the ball or bottle while performing this exercise. This helps in stretching the plantar fascia.
- Perform this exercise once every day.
2. Foot Flexes
Foot flexes are good for the overall feet as it helps in releasing the tension on the stiff calf muscles and increases blood flow to the plantar fascia. It also stretches the fascia ligament.
For this exercise, you will need a stretching elastic band that is easily available in any sports store or online.
How to do:
- Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight.
- Wrap the elastic band from the bottom of your foot and place both ends in your hands
- Stretch the band towards your body while your toes curl slightly away from the body.
- Release and stretch the band to repeat the exercise.
- For effective results, hold the band in a stretched position for a few seconds and release.
- Repeat the same motion 10-15 times.
- Perform this exercise 1-2 times a day. The best time is after waking up and before sleeping at night.
3. Towel Curls
Curling of the toes brings about some flexible movement in your feet and releases the stiff muscles. It can help in stretching the foot and calf muscles. All you will need is a towel or a big piece of cloth and a chair to get started.
How to do:
- Sit on a chair and place your feet flat.
- Place a towel in front of your feet
- Gently grab the center of the towel with your toes and curl the towel towards you.
- Curl and relax your foot. Repeat this 5-6 times.
- Perform this exercise 1-2 times a day, preferably in the morning before you start any other tasks.
4. Marble Pickups
This is a very easy exercise. You can use a few marbles and maybe even indulge in a game with your housemates or family. All you need is a chair and few marbles along with a bowl.
How to do:
- Place a few marbles around your feet along with a bowl to place the marbles.
- Get seated on a chair and curl your toes to pick the marbles and place them in the bowl.
- Pick one marble at a time. You can use around 15-20 marbles and perform the same motion 15 times per set.
- Repeat the same procedure with the other foot.
- Increase the challenge as you keep progressing. You can also ask a family member to help you place the marbles for an added challenge.
5. Calf Stretches
This exercise loosens your stiff muscles, especially the Achilles Tendon in your calves, and releases tension across the length of your feet including the Plantar Fascia.
This exercise can be performed for arthritis, and other joint pain or deformities. All you will need is a wall along with a supportive pair of shoes as it is advisable to not stay bare feet with plantar fasciitis.
How to Do:
- Stand upright against the wall at one arm’s distance and place both your palms flat against the wall.
- Keep both the feet flat on the floor. Now place one leg straight back and bend your other leg in the front.
- You must feel a stretch on your calf of your back leg.
- Hold the position and release after a few seconds.
- Repeat this 3-5 times for each leg.
- Perform this exercise once daily.
6. Heel Raise
This exercise is extremely helpful in stretching your calf muscles as well as the plantar fascia ligament. Make sure to use support and perform this exercise with controlled movements to not overstretch or lose balance. The best place to perform this is on staircases with railing support.
How to do:
- Place both your feet flat. Now, stand on the staircase with the ball of the feet and the rest of the leg suspended.
- Your heels should be hanging off the edge of the stairs
- Now, slowly, lower your heels slightly below the edge of the step. You would feel a slight stretch on your calf muscles.
- Then slowly stand on the ball of your feet and rise upwards with your feet now above the level of the stairs.
- Repeat this 10-15 times slowly. Increase the number of repetitions with time.
- Perform two sets of this exercise once daily.
7. Toe Stretches
Toe stretches can be performed anytime and can be done several times over the day. This improves the blood circulation in the plantar fascia, stretches the ligament appropriately, and helps in maintaining a proper arch on your feet.
All you need is a chair or the edge of your bed or couch to get started. For effective results, you can perform this stretch after doing the above-mentioned exercises for relaxing your feet at the end.
How to do:
- Sit on the chair cross-legged, placing the ankle of feet over the knee of the other.
- Hold your ankle with one hand and use the other hand for stretching
- With the other hand, gently pull your toes backward until you feel a stretch at the base of your feet in the arch.
- Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and release. You can repeat this 3-5 times for each foot.
- Perform this stretch once every day.
Other Remedies for Plantar Fasciitis
Alongside performing these stretches and exercises for plantar fasciitis, you can treat it effectively at home, by following these remedies for better results. Here are a few remedies that we suggest you must try:
RICE stands for Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. As the acronym suggests, with plantar fasciitis, your feet need more rest than usual. Make sure to not stretch or overwork your feet. You can use ice packs to reduce the inflammation and use compression methods like athletic tapes and plantar fasciitis sleeves to keep the ligament in place.
Lastly, keeping your feet in an elevated position while performing these activities helps in increasing blood circulation while stretching the ligament appropriately. This method when done regularly with exercises can effectively help in treating plantar fasciitis. It is also suggested by podiatrists and doctors during therapy.
Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs are known to be a very effective and instant relief option if you experience moderate to severe pain. You can ask your doctor to suggest a course of medications for you along with proper stretches and exercises being followed to prevent plantar fasciitis.
Commonly known NSAIDs are Ibuprofen, Advil, etc. They help in reducing the inflammation in the affected areas as well. However, one must not get addicted to them as they can affect your system in the long run.
Massage has known to be very effective in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. You can do this by applying pressure with your hands on the ball of the foot, extending to the plantar fascia ligament, and pressing the heel. Mild compression with your hands also provides great relief.
Alternatively, you can also invest in a foot massager for plantar fasciitis which proves to be increasing the circulation with its strong vibratory movements in the affected areas. Massage helps in relaxing your stiff muscles and reduces overall pain in your feet.
For those suffering from plantar fasciitis, supportive footwear is a very significant tool for treatment. These shoes are contoured in such a way, that they give you good arch support, have padded heels for cushioning, and the soles are thick enough to provide increased shock absorbance and reduce the pressure on the plantar fascia.
Plantar Fasciitis Shoes help in reducing foot fatigue and keep your feet feeling energetic. They support the affected ligament even with long hours of standing and activity. If combined with exercise and stretching, these shoes prove to be a boon to anyone suffering from the condition.
Life is not normal with plantar fasciitis. There are various dos and don’ts for your feet that need to be taken care of while living with plantar fasciitis. But a very effective way to treat and prevent plantar fasciitis easily at home is to perform the exercises that we mentioned above.
The advantage of these exercises is that they are fairly easy to perform, require no major investment, can be done anytime, anywhere, and help your feet feel normal, without pain. If combined with other home remedies and if the risk factors are kept in check, then you can prevent plantar fasciitis all by yourself at the ease of your home.
Read our article above and tell us how effective and helpful the exercises have been in treating plantar fasciitis through the comments section below.