As one of the most common sources of heel and foot pain that we encounter in physical therapy, plantar fasciitis can often show up without warning, becoming a constant source of pain and disability. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of plantar fasciitis—pain with the first step in the morning, discomfort in the heel or arch while walking after prolonged sitting, or a sensation of a lump or rock in the shoe—early treatment is key to avoiding long-term problems and more aggressive treatments like injections or surgery. If you have heel or foot pain, try these three exercises to strengthen key muscle groups and reduce the amount of force that is placed on your plantar fascia during weight-bearing activities.
The leg wave strengthens the hip abductor musculature to keep too much stress from falling on the arch of your foot and irritating the plantar fascia.
1. Lying on your side, lift your leg and turn it slightly inward.
2. Bring the entire leg forward and then backward, trying to draw a perfectly level line.
Calf Stretch with Arch Support
This exercise stretches the musculature that ultimately becomes the plantar fascia.
1. Get into standing position with one foot about two feet in front of the other, front leg slightly bent.
2. Place a towel under the arch of the affected foot in order to keep a neutral position and to isolate the stretch and the correct tissue. Feel the stretch in your calf.
3. Move the foot forward and perform the same stretch with a slight bend in the back knee.
Great Toe Extension
Decrease pain of the first steps in the morning with this stretch that can be performed before you even get out of bed.
1. Sitting up, cross your leg over the unaffected leg.
2. Grab your first toe and pull it back.
3. Using the knuckle from your other thumb, move your thumb up from the heel to the toe as you use the other hand to pull the toe back.
4. Repeat 20-30 times before placing weight on the foot.