PT eDigest

Kicking the Pain of Plantar Fasciitis

Your foot pain has been diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, and you have been told that stretching will help relieve it. What kinds of stretches should you do?

We have a good knowledge of how to successfully treat plantar fasciitis because it is so common—about 2 million Americans are treated for it every year. Plantar fasciitis results when the ligament that runs from your heel to the front of your foot (the plantar fascia) becomes inflamed due to strains or small tears. And, indeed, the correct kinds of stretches can significantly diminish the pain.

While we will work with you one-on-one to pinpoint exactly which stretches might help you most, researchers have found that, in general, certain stretches work very well. Stretching the calf muscles and the plantar fascia itself are both important, as is strengthening the ankle and foot muscles.

Many people benefit from flexing the entire foot up and down about 10 times in the morning before getting out of bed (or rising after a rest). Once you are on your feet, gentle calf stretches can also help. Conversely, avoid running or any other motion that will put repeated pressure on the bottom of your foot.

Another specific stretch whose success has been documented involves sitting up, crossing the affected foot/calf over the other thigh, then pulling the toes of the affected foot, from their base, toward the shin of that leg and holding the pose for a count of 10. This is repeated 10 times, and then the series is repeated twice more each day for optimal results.

Some people with plantar fasciitis benefit from a trigger-point pressure-release technique performed by a physical therapist. In this scenario, if we determine it will help you, we will locate the area of your calf muscle that is particularly tender and “knotty” and work it with our hands for a short period of time to relieve the pressure. This, in turn, helps release the pressure on the plantar fascia, reducing heel pain, as well.

If you suffer from the pain of plantar fasciitis, there is no need to suffer in silence. Speak with us about an individualized program of stretching to alleviate the pain.