Heel Stretch Solutions for Patients with Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and a common complaint we treat patients for here at the Foot and Ankle Center. When we design a treatment plan for your plantar fasciitis, we always look to find the least invasive solution that will produce the most effective results and relieve your pain. Two facets of the treatment plan we may consider for your heel pain are stretching exercises and kinesiology taping.

Stretching Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

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:

  1. Direct stretch of the plantar fascia
  2. Use a night splint for 30 minutes
  3. Foam rolling of the back of the calf
  4. Arch of foot roller

(1) Direct Stretch of the Plantar Fascia

Studies have shown that a this stretching technique is the most successful form of stretching for plantar fasciitis. It has been shown to be very effective when combined with orthotics and anti-inflammatory therapies and can help to reduce pain significantly.

heel stretch

This new stretch targets the plantar fascia more effectively than the standard stretch that was long used – the standing Achilles tendon stretch. We recommend this stretch be performed before taking the first step in the morning and again after prolonged sitting so that it’s done at least three times per day.

To Perform the direct 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

(2) Continuous Stretch of the Plantar Fascia

night splint for plantar fasciiitisA night splint worn 30 minutes each day applies a gentle, continuous stretch to the plantar fascia and has been shown to help speed healing. It can be worn while sleeping and can help alleviate the morning pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

However, many of our patients find it difficult to sleep while wearing a night splint. As an alternative, you can benefit by wearing the night splint during the day while watching TV, reading or working on your computer. We recommend the

Ovation Posterior Night Splint.

foam calf roller(3) Foam Rolling of the Calf

Foam rolling of the calf should be performed daily by plantar fasciitis sufferers to relieve tension on 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.

foot roller for plantar fasciitis(4) Arch of Foot Roller

You should also spend five minutes per day using a roller on the arch of your foot being sure to push your foot hard into the roller. You can use a frozen water bottle or this Theraband Foot Roller.

Kinesiology Taping for Plantar Fasciitis
Video: How to Tape for Plantar Fasciitis

Kinesiology tape is a thin, stretchable medical tape that is used to treat a number of foot, ankle and leg injuries. It is similar to human skin in elasticity and thickness. Compared to standard sports tape, it is less irritating to the skin and doesn’t overly constrict movement or feel too tight. Old style athletic tape is wrapped tightly around an injured body part to rigidly support and restrict movement but cannot be left on for long periods (i.e. more than 12 hours) due to excessive motion restriction and skin irritation.

In contrast, because kinesiology tape is very thin and flexible, it can provide dynamic support while still allowing a functional and safe range of motion. It is applied directly on the injured area rather than wrapped completely around an injured body part and can be worn four to five days without removal. Kinesiology tape can be worn while bathing or while exercising.

We recommend Rocktape – here’s why:

  • It has a stronger adhesive than other kinesiology tapes to stay on during intense, prolonged exercise, swimming, showering or bathing.
  • It is extra durable due to nylon reinforcement.
  • It offers greater elasticity than other kinesiology tapes (190% vs 140%).
  • Most applications can be worn up to 5 days.

How to Use Kinesiology Tape for Your Plantar Fasciitis >

Don’t live with heel or arch pain for another day. The experts at the Foot and Ankle Center of Seattle specialize in the treatment of plantar fasciitis and other forms of heel pain. Contact us today for an appointment and be sure to check out other home treatment options for heel pain here.

References

BF Digiovanni, et al, “Plantar fascia-specific stretching exercise improves outcomes in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis – A prospective clinical trial with two-year follow-up,” Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 88(8), (Aug 2006): 1775-81.

RM Flanigan, et al, “The influence of foot position on stretching of the plantar fascia,” Foot & Ankle International, 28(7), (July 2007): 815-22.

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