The most important treatment for plantar fasciitis is stretching. The more stretching you can do, the faster the healing time. For those who have pain at the first step in the morning, remember to stretch BEFORE you get out of bed and take a step down.
This plantar fascia specific stretch is the most important stretch because this regimen has been studied and shown to be beneficial. To perform this stretch, place your affected foot on your opposite knee. Grab your heel with the opposite hand and use the other hand to pull the toes back, especially the big toe. You should feel a stretch within the arch.
Confirm the stretch by bringing your thumb along the inside of the arch and palpating the tension on the plantar fascia as seen in the image to the right. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat it 10 times. This should be performed 3 times a day and is best performed at the first thing in the morning and then prior to weight-bearing during the day. More information and research on this plantar fasciitis specific stretching regimen.
Morning Stretch: Perform this stretch by taking a stretch band (or a belt or towel) and place it by your bedside. When you wake up, place the band around the ball of your foot and pull. Keep your knee extended (straight). If you are flexible enough, grab your toes with your hand and pull towards you. This stretch can help even if you are using a night splint. Hold this stretch for 60 seconds. You should also do this stretch before getting up out of chairs, off the couch and even out of a car. If you cannot do the stretch with a band, then use a coffee table, chair or car door to do the stretch, by placing your forefoot on a stable object and pushing your heel down.
Calf stretches can be done by using the wall for support. Both stretches below involve placing the affected leg back, balancing on the wall and keeping the heels down. Hold each stretch for 60 seconds and repeat three times. Do these stretches 2-3 times throughout the day
Place your hands and arms against a wall and place your affected leg or foot back behind your body. Bend the your front leg and align your shin almost parallel with the wall. Lean forward. Both heels should stay on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the back of the calf on the affected side and you may also feel the stress in your hamstring. Place your hands against the wall and place your affect leg behind your body. Instead of keeping this knee straight, bend at both knees. The heels should stay on the ground. You should feel a stretch in the lower area of the calf.
In the stretch demonstrated in the image on the right, the heel should be on the ground and the toes on the wall. Place the unaffected foot behind you. Keep the legs straight and move the entire body forward. Do not move your upper body forward and stick your backside out. You should feel a very strong stretch in the back of the calf and some stretch in the arch.
To increase the stretch, move your heel closer to the wall and increase the angle of your foot. To decrease the stretch, move your heel back and lower your toes. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.
You can do this same stretch by using a large book or block of wood. Stand on the book with your toes and drop your heels to the ground, supporting yourself against the wall. In the very inflamed stage, this stretch can aggravate the pain, so be cautious in the early stages of plantar fasciitis. Don't hang your heels off the back of a step to stretch your calf if you are injured.
Do not stretch through pain. None of these stretches should be painful.
last updated 4/22/15
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