Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

When you have plantar fasciitis, you will look for any behavior, medicine, or surgery to make the pain stop. Luckily, some easy exercises can help you with this painful condition. The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the bottom of the heel bone to the base of the toes. In younger people, it is connected to the Achilles tendon, or the rope-like band that runs down the back of your ankle from the calf muscle. This is important because stretching the Achilles and calf muscle can both make plantar fasciitis better.

What is plantar fasciitis exactly? Inflammation of plantar fascia causes you to have this type of pain. It starts with the overuse of the plantar fascia, and this causes small tears to form all along its length. The body reads these tears as injury and sends chemical messengers and a large amount of blood to fix the problem. Fixing the problem leads to redness, swelling, and pain. One of the ways to avoid this pain is stretching out the plantar fascia, the Achilles tendon, and the calf muscle to prevent the tears caused by overuse. Strengthening exercises can also help your gait and improve your use of the plantar fascia.

Stretches will help mobilize the blood that is rushing to your plantar fascia and help reduce the amount of pain you feel. It will also keep the connective tissue supple and keep you from overcompensating with your gait. Do not stretch your foot or leg to the point of pain. Ease the stretch into a comfortable pulling feeling. If you overstretch, you can wind up causing more damage and pain to your plantar fascia.

One of the first stretches to consider is actually a self-massage. This is important to keep the tissue healthy and prevent the accumulation of scar tissue along the plantar fascia. To perform this massage, roll your foot gently over a tennis ball, soda can, or rolling pin. Do this for five to ten minutes, once or twice per day, and then ice your foot afterwards.

When stretching, you should aim to stretch the plantar fascia two to three times per day. Don’t hold any stretch longer than 60 seconds, but hold the stretch until you feel release. This is usually 15 to 45 seconds. Repeat each stretch two to three times, and then move to the next stretch in the sequence.

The first stretch is a hamstring stretch. This is the muscle that runs down the back of the thigh, and it can affect how you walk and use your plantar fascia. Place your heel on a stable surface that is well below waist height. Face forward, but do not lock your knee. This will cause overstretching. Point your toes towards your head and lean forward at the waist until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Rotate your upper body to the left or right to modify the stretch. Repeat exercise with the opposite leg.

A calf and Achilles tendon stretch is important to the functioning of the plantar fascia. Face towards a wall, and get far enough away to comfortably touch it with your palms. Bring your right foot forward and keep your left foot back. Bend your right knee towards the wall and flex your pelvis forward. From this position, you can do three different stretches. Move among them, holding each for 45 seconds. The first stretch is for the gastrocnemius, or the large outer muscle of the calf. To perform this stretch, lock the knee of your left leg and lean forward gently onto your right foot. To stretch the soleus, or inner part of the calf muscle, keep your left leg slightly bent and feel the stretch by leaning forward. You can also stretch the Achilles tendon from this position by slanting your foot 45 degrees to the left or right to feel the pull through the tendon. For all of these stretches, make sure you support your weight on your heels, not the ball of your foot. Repeat stretches with opposite leg.

The last stretch is a simple stretch of the foot. Put your toes against the wall at an angle while keeping the ball of your foot and heel on the floor. Roll your foot in and out while maintaining contact with the wall and floor. Don’t overstretch in this position, but work gently through areas of the plantar fascia that have the most resistance. You can bend or lock your knee to modify the stretch.

Beginners Strength Exercises
These are the exercises you should use when you are just recovering from plantar fasciitis. Perform them five to six times per week for the first two months, and then you can pull back and do them two times per week. It will take approximately six to eight weeks to see any improvement in your strength, but it is important to stay the course with these exercises.

Toe walking is a great way to strengthen the lower leg muscles and plantar fascia. To perform this exercise, stand tall and walk about 20 feet on your toes. When the foot hits the ground, stay up on the ball of your foot and then allow your heel to drop to the floor without touching it. You can do this exercise with the foot pointed straight ahead, 30 degrees inward, and 30 degrees outward.

Heel walking is similar to toe walking. You put all of your weight on your heels, and take short steps. Do not let your toes touch the ground. You can do this walk with your foot pointed ahead, turned in 30 degrees, and turned out 30 degrees.

You can perform toe crunches with a bath towel. Sit in a chair and spread a towel in front of you lengthwise. Crunch your toes in the towel and pull the it towards you. Keep going until the towel is bunched together at your feet. To make this exercise more challenging, place a weight on the far end of the towel to provide resistance.

The heel extension requires the usage of a resistance band to complete. Wrap the resistance band around your foot and pull the band away from your sole. Pull your toes up against the resistance. Take two seconds to pull up and then five seconds to straighten your foot. This exercise is also effective at an angle of 15 degrees inward and 15 degrees outward. You can alternate between these forms for the greatest strengthening benefit.

Intermediate Strength Exercises
You can use these intermediate exercises when the beginner’s ones become too easy, or you are looking for another way to strengthen your lower leg muscles. Wrap a resistance band around the ball of your foot and pull your foot up and away from your body’s midline. Slowly flex your foot downward and towards midline. You want to trace a slanted line in front of your body from up and out to down and in. Take two seconds to pull your foot down against resistance, and take five seconds to bring your foot back to the start.

Ankle drops with the use of a step can also help strengthen your lower legs. Stand on a step with the balls of your feet on the edge and the heels unsupported. Lift your right foot, use the handrail for balance, and lower your left heel as far as you can. This should take about five seconds. Put your right foot back on the steps to push yourself up on your toes again. Do this exercise with both feet and work through a progression of 30 degrees slanted inward and 30 degrees slanted outward.

Advanced Strength Exercises
These exercises should only be attempted after you have worked through the other exercises for several weeks. They are more aggressive than the previous exercises and can end up exacerbating a plantar fasciitis condition if you are having a flare up. One such exercise is toe hopping. Stand on one foot and hop on your toes. Do not let your heel touch the ground and do not pause between hops. Start out with small hops and gradually increase the height of your jump as you gain more confidence and strength.

You can also practice hopping onto a stable box or the lowest stair in a staircase. Hop on one foot onto the stair and let your heel fall down below the level of the stair. Push off and land on the ball of your foot, but do not let the heel touch the ground. Use the handrail, if you need to, but continuing jumping on and off the step to strengthen your foot and lower leg.

Other exercises help with plantar fasciitis that do not focus so strongly on the lower leg. For instance, barefoot running on soft grass is great for the health of the foot and calf. Maintaining an exercise program that makes your whole body healthy and strong, such as walking or running, can often help with plantar fasciitis symptoms.

Start your heel pain treatment immediately
There are many factors the cause heel pain and plantar fasciitis. It is important to identify what are the factors (like body weight, shoes, muscle tightness ect..) that can cause your heel pain. Unfortunately no 2 people are the same so what has worked for some will not work for others. Fortunately we have put together an ebook that can assess your risk factors and guide you through your plantar heel pain and plantar fasciitis treatment today.

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