UPDATED | Previously published May 25, 2017
Do you experience foot or heel pain when running or taking your first few steps in the morning? You may be suffering from plantar fasciitis, which is the medical term for inflammation and irritation of the band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.
This painful condition is caused by a wide variety of factors such as overuse, poor foot alignment, tight or weak muscles in the foot and ankle, and weight gain. Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of pain and dysfunction in the U.S., affecting millions of Americans each year. However, it can commonly be treated with conservative measures. If you think you may have plantar fasciitis, these 3 exercises may help to relieve foot pain:
1) Calf Stretching
Calf stretching is one of the easiest and most important treatments for plantar fasciitis. When the muscles of the calf become tight they pull indirectly on the plantar fascia, causing this tissue to be stressed and irritated. To help lessen the stress on the plantar fascia, it is important to loosen up the calf muscles by stretching them.
To stretch the calf muscles, take a towel and loop it around the ball of your foot and then pull back towards yourself while keeping the leg straight, holding for 30 seconds. This is an effective technique to help loosen these muscles and can even be done in bed prior to getting up to help decrease the pain you feel with those first few steps in the morning.
2) Plantar Fascia Stretching
The plantar fascia is the tissue that is irritated and causing pain in this condition, so making sure it receives some attention and gets properly stretched out is an important part of ensuring a full recovery.
To stretch the plantar fascia, simply grab your toes and pull back towards yourself until you feel a good stretch along the bottom of the foot. Like the calf stretch, hold for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times per day. This can also be done prior to getting out of bed in the morning, or throughout the day, to aid in decreasing your pain.
3) Ice Massage or Mobility Ball Massage
Another good way to help keep the plantar fascia loose is to roll out along the bottom of the foot. A great way to help loosen up this tissue while simultaneously decreasing pain and inflammation is to roll the bottom of your foot along a frozen water bottle, lacrosse ball, or tennis ball for 5-10 minutes.
Apply some pressure down through the foot onto the water bottle or ball – making sure to roll out the entire length of your foot. This technique may not be the most comfortable to perform initially, however, the relief provided can be significant.
While these exercises are simple to perform and can help to decrease your pain, it is important to note that it can take a few weeks to notice significant changes. If you give these exercises a try but are still not experiencing any relief, it may be time to try a more formal approach, such as physical therapy. Request an appointment at Performance Therapies to see how we can help you get rid of your pain and get back to doing the things you love!