Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, the fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the base of the toes, becomes inflamed. Classified as an overuse injury, plantar fasciitis generally causes pain in the heel of the foot. For most people, the pain is at its worst first thing in the morning, but some may feel pain when walking, jumping or running.
Many runners suffer from plantar fasciitis, and the pain sometimes makes training difficult or impossible. Thankfully, with the right exercises and stretches, it is possible to minimize symptoms or eliminate them altogether. If you want to buy shoes that are designed to prevent this issue, check out: 5 Plantar Fasciitis Shoes You Need To Consider
1. Try Calf Stretches
Stretching your calves may help relieve plantar fasciitis. All you need for this stretch is a rope or yoga strap and some time.
- Sit down with both legs straight out in front of you.
- Loop the rope or strap around your left foot and hold onto each end.
- Using your heel, flex your foot forward towards your knee.
- You can use the rope to assist you.
- Hold the stretch for two seconds before releasing.
- Repeat 10 times on each leg.
2. Tape Your Arch and Heel
To decrease pain and minimize symptoms, tape your arch and heel. This will provide you with some additional support. Taping your foot isn’t as complicated as it sounds or looks.
- Cut a piece of tape that is long enough to extend from the back of your heel all the way to the base of your toes. Don’t remove the backing from the tape just yet.
- Cut the piece of tape into four “fingers,” leaving a few inches of tape on the bottom for support.
- Cut another piece of tape that’s long and wide enough to cover the ball of your foot. Be sure to round out the edges so that the tape fits comfortably.
- Peel off the back of the first piece of tape and attach it to the back of your heel.
- With your ankle flexed and your toes up, peel the backing off the fingers one at a time. Place them evenly across your foot. Don’t stretch the tape.
- Peel the backing off the second piece of tape and apply it to the ball of your foot.
This is the taping technique used by many athletes to help minimize symptoms and prevent pain without compromising range of motion.
If necessary, you can purchase a custom shoe insert to really give your heel and arch that extra bit of support it needs.
If you’re unable to purchase a custom shoe insert, consider purchasing a new pair of shoes that has built-in support. There are several modern styles and brands to choose from.
3. Wear a Night Splint
A night splint will keep your foot flexed at 90 degrees throughout the night. When sleeping, your feet naturally point downward, which can make your symptoms worse. A night splint will keep your foot in an upright position and help prevent the pain of that first step in the morning.
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While you can purchase night splints over the counter, it may be best to have one prescribed by your doctor. A custom, medical grade splint will provide you with the relief that you’re looking for. If a prescription splint is out of your price range, you can purchase an over the counter splint for under $50.
4. Try the Stair Stretch
To perform this stretch, you will need a set of stairs or an aerobic step.
- Begin by standing up on the step on the balls of your feet. Hold onto the rails for balance.
- Slowly begin lowering the heel of the affected foot until you begin feeling a stretch.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
- Relax and repeat 10 times.
This is a great stretch that really targets the problem area, but feels good too. While you only need to stretch the affected foot, stretching both feet will provide consistent, balanced results that can help prevent plantar fasciitis in your otherwise healthy foot.
5. Do the Towel Drag
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The towel drag is a popular exercise for plantar fasciitis. It helps strengthen the foot and ankle muscles to improve your symptoms. For this exercise, you will need a small towel and a one pound can.
- Lay the towel flat out on the floor, and place the one pound can on the far end.
- While sitting down, place your foot on the opposite edge of the towel.
- Using your toes, grip the towel’s edge and pull the can towards you.
- Continue pulling and bunching the towel until the can reaches you.
6. Stretch Your Toes
Stretching your toes is another great way to relieve pain and start gaining some more flexibility in your foot. To perform this stretch, you don’t need any special equipment or weights.
- Sit down on the floor.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Pull your toes back until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and release.
- Repeat 10 times on each foot.