Plantar Fasciitis (“plan-tar fash-ee-ay-tis”) is painful inflammation that occurs at the heel of the foot. It is common both in those on their feet all day, such as retail and restaurant workers, as well as those of us who do most of our work at desks. For many, it is most noticeable when off of the feet, often upon rising in the morning. Many people will turn to orthotics or improved footwear to combat Plantar Fasciitis.
If you go to a physician about your foot pain, he or she might tell you to take Tylenol or other pain medication. At Desta, we advocate a series of safe and effective stretches. Stretching is the fastest way to alleviate the pain because of the nature of Plantar Fasciitis. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) states, “A diagnosis of plantar fasciitis means you have inflamed the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes.” (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2015). Stretching at home to help ease the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis can be an effective remedy.
Standing Calf and Plantar Fascia Stretch
When the initial pain has subsided, either by staying off your feet for a period or by applying ice, do this stretch. Face the wall, but stay about three feet away from it. Step forward with either foot—it is best to do this with each foot, so it does not matter which foot you start with—and place your toes against the wall. Bend the knee you stepped forward with, keeping your other foot in place behind you. Each of your heels needs to be on the ground. Bend your elbows and lean against the wall, keeping your feet firmly planted. You should feel the bottom arch of your rear foot stretch, from your toes to your heel. Use this same position to stretch your calf as well.
Hold it for about ten seconds, then switch feet. Repeat this stretch about 20 times, but don’t overdo it. Your heel has already reached an inflamed state, and it is not our goal (or yours), to hurt yourself. Do what you can, but stop if you feel too much pain or you fear you are in danger of hurting yourself more. Perform this exercise up to three times per day.
In another exercise, you will need a countertop with room behind it to stand. This is almost like doing a squat. Stand about one and a half feet from the counter and grab it. Place one foot in front of the other, but not touching. Your feet do not need to be lined up; stand normally, then put one foot forward and one foot back. Grab the counter and lean into it, keeping your feet firmly planted. Bend at the knees, and squat down, using the counter to keep your balance. You should feel a similar effect in the arches of your feet as you squat. The lower you go, the higher your heels will want to lift themselves off the ground, stretching the arches of your feet. Hold the squat for about ten seconds, and then stand back up. Once again, repeat the exercise in 20 sets, about three times per day.
A Seated Stretch
The third stretch you can take sitting down. Take your socks and shoes off and cross one foot over your other knee. Relax your foot, grab your toes, and pull them up and back towards your shin. You should feel the stretch in the arch of the foot. As you pull your toes back, take your thumb and place it on the stretched arch. From here, you should be able to feel the cords connecting your heel to your toes. It should feel tight, like a clothesline. Repeat this stretch for ten sets, holding each set for ten seconds.
The Bottle Roll
Another stretch includes this next regime from Deborah Lynn Irmas, a certified personal trainer and triathlete from Santa Monica, California. Irmas is certified by the American Council on Exercise. Roll each foot over a frozen water bottle, concentrating on the arch of your foot. Do this to each foot for one minute. Next, cross one leg over the other while you are sitting down. If your left leg is on top, take your right hand and grab your toes. Straighten your knee while holding your toes. Hold this position between 15-30 seconds, and then switch legs (use the opposite hand to grab the other foot). Do this three times. Last, grab the ends of a hand towel. Place the middle of the towel under your feet. Using the ends as handles and keeping your feet on the towel, pull up until your knees are straight. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, repeating three times (Colbert, 2014).
Stretching can be immensely helpful for Plantar Fasciitis. If you plan on being feet for a prolonged period, perform a stretch. Another excellent time to stretch is first thing in the morning when your pain is at its peak. Faithfully performing these stretches with real intent can alleviate the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis. It may take some time; give yourself about three months. Most people find that daily stretching is the cure and key to ridding yourself of your foot and heel pain.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Plantar Fasciitis. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society: http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/conditions/ailments-of-the-heel/Pages/Plantar- Fasciitis.aspx/
Colbert, T. (2014, August 19). Plantar Fasciitis Stretches to Soothe Heel Pain. Retrieved June 1, 2015, from Healthline: http://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/plantar-fasciitis-stretches#1