15 Plantar Fasciitis Exercises And Stretches To Relieve Foot Pain

by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of pain in the heels (1). It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick ligament that runs from the heel to the toes, gets inflamed due to regular wear and tear. The sharp, stabbing pain is mainly experienced after waking up or standing/sitting for a prolonged period. It may make walking uncomfortable for a while.

Studies show that physical therapy helps reduce plantar fasciitis pain (2). This article guides you through 15 exercises and stretches to relieve plantar heel pain. Scroll down!

15 Plantar Fasciitis Exercises And Stretches

1. Toe Curls With Towel

How To Do

  1. Place a towel on the floor.
  2. Sit in a chair and place your feet on the towel.
    Grab the towel by curling your toes. Pull the towel towards you.
  3. Repeat this action 5-8 times.
  4. Curl your toes and push the towel away in 5-8 repetitions.
  5. Do this exercise twice a day.

2. Toe Extension

How To Do

  1. Sit down on a mat. Place the affected leg on a foam roller, and both your hands on the mat, behind you. This is the starting position.
  2. Push your foot down, but flare your toes out.
  3. Pull or curve your foot up and curl your toes.
  4. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this twice a day.

3. Sitting Calf Stretch

How To Do

  1. Sit on the edge of a chair. Keep your legs straight, heels on the floor, and toes pointing up. Keep your spine erect and place your hands on the sides of the chair for support.
  2. Slowly lower your upper body towards the legs. Keep your back straight.
  3. Feel the stretch in your thighs and calves.
  4. Count to 10 and slowly get back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this twice a day.

4. Towel Stretch

How To Do

  1. Sit on a mat.
  2. Roll a long towel and place it on the curve of the affected foot. This is the starting position.
  3. Pull the towel gently and slowly.
  4. Count to 3 and relax.
  5. Do not over-stretch.
  6. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this twice a day.

5. Foot Flexes

How To Do

  1. Sit on a mat with your legs extended. Place a towel underneath the ankle of the affected leg.
  2. Use a light resistance band with a loop on one side.
  3. Place the loop around the ball of your foot.
  4. Push your foot forward. Count to 3.
  5. Pull your foot backward. Count to 3.
  6. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this twice a day.

6. Calf Stretch On A Step

How To Do

  1. Place the balls of your feet on a step. Make sure you hold on to the railing for support.
  2. Slowly, lower the heel of the affected foot.
  3. Feel the stretch in your calves.
  4. Count to 3 and move your heel back to the starting position.
  5. Do this stir stretch 8 times twice a day.

7. Ice Massage Arch Roll

How To Do

  1. Fill a water bottle and freeze it.
  2. Place the frozen water bottle under the arch of your foot.
  3. Roll it forward and backward, applying very gentle pressure.
  4. Do this rolling stretch 10-15 times.

8. Plantar Fasciitis Massage

How To Do

  1. Sit in a chair comfortably.
  2. Place the affected leg on top of the other leg.
  3. Place the thumbs of your hands on the end of the heel and the beginning of the foot arch.
  4. Gently press and move your thumbs up to the ball of the foot.
  5. Do this 10-15 times at least once a day.

9. Plantar Fasciitis Toe Flexion

How To Do

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair.
  2. Make a loop on one end of a light resistance band.
  3. Wrap the loop around your toes. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  4. Gently tug the resistance band and pull your toes up. Avoid flexing your ankle.
  5. Do not over-stretch.
  6. Count to 3 and release the pull. Place your toes flat on the floor.
  7. Do this 8 times once a day.

10. Soleus Stretch on Wall

How To Do

  1. Stand at the back of a chair and hold it for support.
  2. Place the affected foot behind. Make sure that the heel and the ball of both the feet are on the floor.
  3. Bend both the knees until you feel the stretch.
  4. Count to 5 and release.
  5. Repeat 10 times. Do this twice a day.

11. Standing Calf Stretch

How To Do

  1. Stand in front of a wall and place both your hands on it.
  2. Place the affected foot at the back.
  3. Keeping your affected leg straight, push your upper body towards the wall.
  4. Count to 5 and relax.
  5. Repeat 8 times. Do this twice a day.

12. Seated Plantar Fascia Mobilization With Small Ball

How To Do

  1. Sit on a chair and place your foot on a small and soft ball.
  2. Move your feet forward and backward, from balls to the heels.
  3. Apply gentle and steady pressure. Do not make it painful.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times. Do this twice a day.

13. Toe Yoga

How To Do

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair.
  2. Lift your big toe without raising the other toes. Push the other toes down to the floor.
  3. Count to 3 and relax.
  4. Press your big toe down on the floor and raise all other toes.
  5. Count to 3 and relax.
  6. Do this 8-10 times at least once a day to improve muscle strength.

14. Wall Toe Stretch

How To Do

  1. Stand in front of a wall and place your hands on it.
  2. Place the toes of the affected foot against the wall. Keep both the legs extended.
  3. Slowly flex the knee of the affected foot.
  4. Feel the stretch in the calf and lower part of the Achilles tendon.
  5. Count to 3 and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this twice a day.

15. Single Leg Heel Raises

How To Do

  1. Stand behind a chair and hold the back for support.
  2. Lift the unaffected foot off the floor.
  3. Keeping the unaffected leg’s knee bent, raise the heel of the affected foot off the floor.
  4. Slowly bring your heel back on the floor.
  5. Repeat 5-8 times. Do this once a day.

These are the 15 most effective exercises to reduce plantar fasciitis pain. Do not over-stretch or over-exercise the foot muscles. Begin by doing 3-5 repetitions twice a day. Increase the repetitions as your muscles regain strength and mobility. However, not all foot pain is plantar fasciitis. The following section lists the risk factors associated with the condition.

Risk Factors Of Plantar Fasciitis

You may have plantar fasciitis if you:

  • Are a runner.
  • Dance or do aerobic exercises regularly.
  • Are overweight (have a BMI over 30 with a high fat percentage and lead a sedentary lifestyle).
  • Spend a long time standing.
  • Are pregnant.
  • Have tight calf muscles.
  • Do not wear proper shoes.

Conclusion

If you feel a sharp pain at the bottom of your foot right after waking up in the morning, check with an orthopedic doctor immediately. Apart from taking medicines, you must also seek physiotherapy. The exercises mentioned above are efficient and effective for reducing plantar fasciitis pain. However, do these exercises under the supervision of a professional physical therapist for two weeks before doing them without guidance. Take adequate rest, wear shoes with insoles, and eat healthy. In 3-4 weeks, you will experience reduced pain and comfortably walk around again. Take care!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is walking good for plantar fasciitis?

If you feel a sharp pain, avoid walking. Massage the foot before you walk to prep the muscles. Avoid all kinds of exercise that may cause more muscle wear and tear.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the heel to the front of the foot. When we walk, run, or turn, the legs are supported by the plantar fascia. Excessive weight or strain due to exercising may cause tissue damage and inflammation. This is when you feel the sharp pain at the bottom of your feet. Rest, medication and physical therapy should help relieve plantar fasciitis pain.

Should I walk barefoot with plantar fasciitis?

No, wear insoles in your shoes to support your feet if you have plantar fascia.

Does elevating feet help plantar fasciitis?

Yes, elevating the curve of the foot helps absorb the shock from walking and protects the plantar fascia from further tissue damage and inflammation.

What causes the plantar fascia to flare up?

Repeated vigorous exercise, wearing the wrong type of shoes while exercising, high heels, and gaining too much weight suddenly may cause the plantar fascia to flare up.

2 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
  • Schwartz, Emily N, and John Su. “Plantar fasciitis: a concise review.” The Permanente journal vol. 18,1 (2014): e105-7.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951039/
  • Díaz López, Ana María, and Patricia Guzmán Carrasco. “Efectividad de distintas terapias físicas en el tratamiento conservador de la fascitis plantar: revisión sistemática” [Effectiveness of different physical therapy in conservative treatment of plantar fasciitis: systematic review]. Revista espanola de salud publica vol. 88,1 (2014): 157-78.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24728397/

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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.
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