Stretching and rolling exercises are important therapies in treating plantar fasciitis. Based on current research, we recommend our patients do these three exercises each day:
- Direct stretch of the plantar fascia
- Use a night splint for 30 minutes
- Foam rolling of the back of the calf
Direct Stretch of the Plantar Fascia
Two studies have shown that a new stretch is the most successful form of stretching for treatment of plantar fasciitis. It has been shown to be a very effective adjunct to treatments such as orthotics and anti-inflammatory measures. It can help to reduce pain significantly.
This new stretch is more specific at targeting the plantar fascia than previous stretches. Previously, the standard stretch for plantar fasciitis was to do a standing Achilles tendon stretch.
How to Perform the Plantar Fasciitis Stretch
- Cross one leg over the other
- Hold the base of toes of the affected foot
- Gently pull the toes back towards the shin until you feel a stretch in the arch.
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and slowly release.
- Repeat 10 times
- Perform three sets of 10 repetitions daily.
When to Perform the Plantar Fasciitis Stretch
- Before taking the first step in the morning
- After prolonged sitting
- The stretch must be performed at least three times per day
A night splint applies a gentle, continuous stretch to the plantar fascia and has been shown to help speed healing of plantar fasciitis. It is standardly worn in bed, and when worn at night it can help alleviate the morning pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Many people, however, find it difficult to sleep while wearing a night splint. You can also benefit from the night splint by wearing it during the day while watching TV, reading or working on your computer. We recommend the Ovation Posterior Night Splint.
Foam rolling of the calf should be done daily when you are trying to get over plantar fasciitis in order to take tension off of the Achilles tendon (a tight Achilles will increase tension on the plantar fascia). The video below demonstrates how to properly use a foam roller for the calf. The OPTP 6″ x 36″ foam roller is the one we recommend and you can get it here.
Video: How to Use a Foam Roller for the Calf
You should also spend 5 minutes per day using a roller on the arch of your foot. As you do the rolling, push your foot hard into the roller. You can use a frozen water bottle or this Theraband Foot Roller.
We specialize in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic. Contact us today for an appointment.
- Digiovanni BF, et. al. Plantar fascia-specific stretching exercise improves outcomes in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. A prospective clinical trial with two-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2006 Aug;88(8):1775-81.
- Flanigan RM,et.al. The influence of foot position on stretching of the plantar fascia. Foot Ankle Int. 2007 Jul;28(7):815-22.
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