Plantar Fascia Stretch for Foot Pain

Photo of the plantar fascia foot stretch.
Gently rest your toes up a wall to stretch the plantar fascia. Brett Sears, PT, 2012

If you have plantar fasciitis, then you know how painful this condition can be. It can cause you to walk with a limp, and it may limit your ability to run and walk up and down the stairs properly.

Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include, but are not limited, to:

  • Pain on the bottom of your foot near the heel
  • Pain located in the middle of the arch of your foot
  • Pain to touch and a palpable lump on the bottom of your foot near the heel
  • Sharp foot pain when walking, especially when first rising from bed in the morning

If you are feeling any of these symptoms, you may benefit from a simple--yet effective-- stretch for the arch of your foot and plantar fascia. The stretch elongates your plantar fascia, improveing overall foot mobility. This can help keep your foot moving normally and can decrease that pain you feel in the bottom of your heel. Check in with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis, and then get right to work treating your foot pain.

What to Do for Foot and Heel Pain of Plantar Fasciitis

If the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed and painful, the first step is to manage the inflammatory process which involves applying ice to the painful, inflamed area. An ice pack can be applied to the bottom of your foot for 10-15 minutes several times per day. To avoid damage to your skin from frostbite, be sure not to apply ice directly to your skin.

You may also wish to try the ice-bottle massage to help decrease the inflammation from plantar fasciitis. This technique has two benefits: the ice helps to decrease inflammation, and the massage helps to gently stretch the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot.

Sometimes, tightness in your Achilles tendon and calf may contribute to the plantar fasciitis.

The towel calf stretch is a safe and simple way to improve the flexibility in your Achilles and calf.

Some people with plantar fasciitis benefit from applying kinesiology tape to their foot to improve overall arch support. This method of treatment is not supported by current research.

Direct Stretch to the Plantar Fascia

You may also benefit from a direct stretch to your plantar fascia to help improve mobility of your foot and manage the pain from plantar fasciitis. Here is how you do it:

  1. Stand with your foot directly in front of a wall. Make sure your shoe is off.
  2. Slowly position your foot so that your big toe is resting on the wall and the ball of your foot is a few centimeters from the floor. Your big toe should be bending gently backwards.
  3. A gentle stretch should be felt on the bottom of your foot. Hold this position for 15 seconds, and then take your foot away from the wall.
  4. Repeat the stretch five times.

If placing your foot against the wall proves difficult or causes pain, you may be able to stretch the plantar fascia manually.

Simply cross your foot over your knee, grab your toe, and gently bend it backwards into extension. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds, and then release. Repeat five times.

Of course, make sure you check with your physical therapist or doctor before starting any exercise or self-care program for plantar fasciitis. Most cases of plantar fasciitis resolve in a few weeks, but sometimes a little extra help is necessary from physical therapy to manage the condition.

Gentle stretching of your foot and calf may be a necessary component to manage foot pain from plantar fasciitis. By improving foot flexibility and managing the inflammation in your foot, you may be able to quickly and safely return to normal activity and function if you have plantar fasciitis.

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