In a recent study, where more than 7.000 plantar fasciitis patients revealed their best working treatment, it was shown that stretching and massaging your plantar fascia plus the usage of appropriate footwear such as special sandals and walking shoes are the most effective treatments.
Plantar fasciitis and calcaneal spur may be caused by a shortening of the muscles, primarily in the sole of the foot or the calf. Stretching the muscles and ligaments in this area may relieve some of the tension on the plantar fascia.
Below we explain some recommended exercises that can be used to stretch the muscles and treat plantar fasciitis. Some have very similar results, so find the ones that suit you best for stretching the entire area.
Make sure you don’t abuse these exercises. Although it may relieve the pain, if you exceed it may cause harm to the muscle fibers and ligaments. Make sure to do these exercises several times during the day with 3 to 4 exercises in every session and 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
EXERCISE 1 (THE BOTTLE ROLLER): MASSAGE AND TEMPERATURE CHANGES
The first exercise focuses on the release of the myofascial tissue in the sole of the foot, in which the plantar fascia is part. To do it, you just need a cylindrical object to massage the foot sole. A bottle of 0.5 l of water or a can may be used, ideally with a low temperature due to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cold temperatures. Place the object on an anti-slip surface such as a towel. Place the foot on the object and roll your foot back and forth. Do this exercise approximately 5 minutes with each foot, ideally at the end of the day. This may be done sitting or standing and it is important to make sure there is adequate pressure on the object in order to get a better stretch of the sole structures.
EXERCISE 2: MUSCLE STRETCHING
The second exercise is a direct stretching of the structures involved in the tension of the foot sole (Gastrocnemius and soleus). This exercise should be done in a sitting position with a towel or an elastic band placed on the forefoot while holding the ends of the towel with your hands. A flexion movement should be done aiming to pull the toes back towards you while keeping the knee outstretched. Do 10-15 repetitions with each foot until completion of 3-4 sessions.
EXERCISE 3: STRENGTHENING
The third and last exercise is recommended for the strengthening of the foot structures (intrinsic muscles). The goal of this exercise is to build resistance of the structures in order for them to contribute to the support of the plantar arch. Lay a towel out on the floor and try to grab it or drag it toward us using only our toes. This should be done for 3-4 minutes with both feet at the same time.
Exercise 1: Stretching of the plantar fascia and calf.
Stand with your metatarsals or tiptoes at the edge of a step. Let the heel fall until you feel the stretch. Stay in this position for a few seconds and rest.
Exercise 2: Stretching of the plantar fascia and calf.
Sitting on a chair, cross your right leg over the left one. Grab your right toes and stretch them towards you.
Exercise 3: Stretching of the calf.
Support yourself against a wall or post leaving one leg back in a stretched position while keeping your front leg bent at the knee. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back leg.
Exercise 4: Stretching of the lower part of the calf (soleus muscle).
Lean back against a wall, lower yourself and bend your knees. You’ll feel a stretch in the lower part of the calf where [no comma] the soleus muscle is located.
Exercise 5: Stretching of the plantar fascia.
In a sitting position, place a golf or tennis ball under your foot and roll your foot back and forth so that the ball massages and stretches the sole. The harder the ball, the better the results. Avoid causing yourself too much pain.