Plantar fasciitis or inflammation of the plantar fascia occurs when the plantar fascia develops very small tears where it joins the heel bone, or along the ligament itself. With poor biomechanics, overuse or other catalysts, the pressure applied to the plantar fascia during running and walking and the shift of body weight from one foot to the other can tear the fascia from where it joins to the heel and develop microscopic tears.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretching is important for rehabilitation from plantar fasciitis. Practising routine, periodic stretching exercises on the plantar fascia ligament, back of the foot and calf muscles, very often lessens the tension in the damaged ligament and helps the healing. It is likely to see people suffering from plantar fasciitis with diminished range of ankle motion and tight calf muscles. Stretching these areas cuts down the probability of re-injury.
In recent tests over 80% of patients suffering from plantar fasciitis reported that increasing flexibilit helped their recovery and over 25 percent thought that their stretching programs were the best treatment they used.
Regular gentle stretching is the key. Start stretching slowly and cautiously at first since overstretching at first during the first points of recovery can re-injure the plantar fascia and do more harm than good. With stretching, less is often more and effective treatments come from a ‘often and little’ approach. Stretching should be done at least two times a day (preferably more regular) rather than diving into one long, overly aggressive stretching session on an infrequent basis.
Due to the risk of re-injury, you should always closely follow a structured stretching plan that has been designed to add extra activity and force slowly at the same pace as the ligament heals itself.
Four Basic Stretches
Here are four easy-to-follow basic plantar fasciitis exercises to help assist with the recovery from plantar fasciitis. We cannot overstate the fact that the exercises should be executed very slowly and carefully without over-stretching.
Seated Foot Stretch
The most basic stretch of the calf and plantar fascia and we recommend all stretching programs should first start with this exercise. Patients should do this stretch for several days before starting the more advanced exercises.
- Start by sitting on the ground, legs flat out in front of you.
- Loop a strap around the ball (at the front pad) of the foot and gently pull the strap tight towards you, keeping the legs straight.
- Only pull until you feel a gentle stretch, then hold the position for roughly thirty seconds. Breathe gently throughout.
- Relax for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
Wall Calf Stretch
The wall calf stretch allows for a deeper stretch than the seated foot stretch, but still permits you to control the depth of stretch. Don’t start this stretch until you have improved basic flexibility by doing the basic plantar fasciitis exercises.
- Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at eye level.
- Put one leg backwards, keeping the front knee bent. Ensure both feet remain flat on the floor.
- Lean forwards, allowing the front knee to bend until a gentle stretch is felt in the rear leg behind the knee.
- Hold for thirty seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
- Rest for thirty seconds, then repeat 3-5 times.
This is the most advanced stretch for the calf muscle and Achilles tendon. It is harder to master than the previous two hence extra care should be taken not to overstretch.
- Stand on a stair on the balls of your feet. Be sure to hold on to the stair rail or a wall for support.
- Gradually drop your heel over the step until you feel a gentle stretch in the calf muscle.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other foot.
- Rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 3-5 times.
- Once the muscles become more flexible and stronger, you will be able to progress to stretching both feet at once.
Plantar Fascia Massage
This involves rolling the arch of the foot over a massage ball while either standing (holding a wall or chair for support) or sitting. Give the foot and ankle full movement in all directions while rolling the arch over the massage ball. This massage both lengthens the muscles along the sole of the foot and alleviates tension. It can be done after the plantar fasciitis stretches above.
- Massage each foot for around 30 seconds.
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3-5 times.