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Exercise Yourself Out of Plantar Fascia Pain

Exercise Yourself Out of Plantar Fascia Pain

May 5, 2021
By Next Level Physical Therapy

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot and heel pain, affecting 2 million people each year.  The fascia is connective tissue that surrounds and penetrates every muscle, coats every bone, covers every organ, and envelops every nerve and blood vessel. 

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis can range from mild to severe, making even simple activities like walking and standing unbearable. We have given you the tools in our article, 3 Steps to Alleviate Plantar Fascia Pain to alleviate the acute pain associated with this condition, but long-lasting relief requires proper mechanics at your foot and ankle. Here are a few of our favorite tips and exercises to prevent and heal your plantar fascia pain.

Ready to Mobilize!

Tight ankles and stiff toes place more demand on foot, stressing the plantar fascia. Watch the video below to learn some stretches to loosen up or follow the instructions following this video!

  1. Stretch tight calf muscles and mobilize stiff toes with the following exercises.  Stretch your calf by placing your painful foot behind you.  Keeping your heel down, lunge forward onto the opposite leg.  You will feel a stretch in the back of your hind leg. Hold 30-60 seconds.  
  2. Stretch the toes by pulling your toes upward toward the top of the foot.  This can be done manually with your hand; by placing your toes up on a wall, with the back of your foot planted on the ground; or in a standing position by lifting your heel up and forward, with the ball of the foot planted on the ground behind you. Choose your favorite and milk into and out of the motion.  Then hold-end position for 30-60 seconds, as you are able.  (Progress by rocking your heel from side to side in the stretch position. (Progress by rocking your heel from side to side in the stretch position)
  3. Progress to a maximum stretch by combining the above:  Place your up on a towel or board while you perform the calf stretch.  Hold for 30-60 seconds.  

Now That We've Mobilized - Time to Strengthen

The muscles that support your arch of your foot play a large role in foot posture, walking mechanics and the stresses placed on your plantar fascia.  If strengthening exercises are not implemented, you may find yourself being stuck for life in orthotics, orthopedic shoes, or worse, at the mercy of injections or surgery. 

Strengthen the bottom of your foot with exercises like towel curls, arch lifts and stumping.

  1. Towel curls: Place a towel on the floor in front of you. Keeping your heel on the ground, pull the towel toward you with your toes. 
  2. Arch Lifts: Lift the arches of your feet, keeping the heel and ball of the foot down.  
  3. Stumping is performed by raising up onto your tip-toes as you shift your weight from side to side, perform arm reaches and squats.  Perform 5 of each. This one will require balance and toe mobility.  

Get your butt in gear!  The gluteals (buttocks) are large, powerful muscles that help to control your hip, knee and… you guessed it... your foot and ankle!  Try this - stand barefoot in front of a mirror. Notice how your arches feel and their position in the mirror. Now squeeze your buttocks together like you are holding onto a winning lottery ticket between your cheeks (I know... descriptive).  You will notice that when you squeeze your buttocks your arches lift.  Let’s put this to good use, shall we?  

Here are 2 exercises that build the strength and control of your arch and buttocks!

  1. The Single leg balance.  Stand on one leg, barefoot if able.  Hold for 60 seconds.  Increase the challenge by bouncing a ball or standing on an unstable surface. 
  1. Next Level Clams
    1. In ½ half kneeling clam.  Assume a ½ kneeling position.  Keeping the ball of your foot down, push your knee outward of your hip and ankle. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by adding resistance to the knee movement.  You can do this by using your hand or a resistance band (as shown).  Once this is easy for you, progress into a split stance position and then through a split squat (as shown).

As always, the above recommendations are based on accurately diagnosing the cause of your foot pain.  If you are unsure of what is causing your foot pain, please call 661-383-9828 or CLICK HERE to schedule an evaluation with one of our doctors of physical therapy. Our team will diagnose the cause of your pain and guide you on your path to pain-free living. 

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