7 Effective Plantar Fasciitis Exercises
Updated: May 20
For a complete resolution of Plantar Fasciitis, it is important to use the correct combination of exercises. There are four important types of exercises you must include to address Plantar Fasciitis: stretching, myofascial release, strengthening, and balance.
What exercises should be prescribed will vary depending on the needs of the individual. Factors such as kinetic chain involvement, muscle imbalances, and previous injuries should be considered. Because of this please consider the information as a general guildeline and not a recommendation for a specific case.
FIRST CHECK THE RED FLAGS
Before you start exercising, you should first verify that you are dealing with a simple case of Plantar Fasciitis, and that you do not have some other type of condition that may require immediate attention by a physician.
Caution: In most cases, the pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis is musculoskeletal in nature (mechanical in origin). However, if there are indications of something more serious, you need to see your physician immediately before using any of the exercise routines I have recommended.
Be sure to see a physician immediately if you:
Have swelling of the feet with severe pain. This needs to be addressed if the swelling does not decrease after two or three days.
Have severe foot pain occurring after physical trauma. You must rule out possible fractures that may be causing foot pain.
Have symptoms of severe nerve compression such as muscle atrophy, or pain that does not change with increased rest or changes in body position.
Have indications of an infection (fever over 38°C (100°F), with accompanying tenderness, warmth, and redness of the foot).
Are unable to walk or put any weight on your feet.
SCHEDULING YOUR PLANTAR FASCIITIS EXERCISE ROUTINES
Most patients need to follow this program for about four to six weeks. For the first two weeks you will only do the Stretching and Myofascial release exercises. Then, in week three, you can introduce the strengthening exercises into your routine.
Stretching exercise are to be performed 6 days per week.
Strengthening exercises are only to be performed 3 days of the week with a day in between the strengthening exercises.
One day per week should be a rest day with NO exercises.
Setting Programs Expectations
Don’t expect to see many changes for the first week. (In fact, you may even notice an overall increase in your symptoms.) But, by the end of the four to six week period, you can expect to see a considerable decrease in your symptoms, and overall improvement in your function. In many cases, our patients often find that they are completely pain-free.
FLEXIBILITY AND MYOFASCIAL RELEASE EXERCISES
Perform these flexibility and myofascial release exercises for 15 to 20 minutes per day, 6 days per week. Remember, these are the only exercises you will do for the first two weeks.
Plantar Fasciitis Exercises - Foot Stretching Routine (Follow Along): This foot stretching routine focuses on the long and short flexors and extensors of the foot. Great routine for anyone suffering from Plantar Fasciitis. Take your time with routine. It should be performed 6 days per week and combined with our other myofascial release exercises.
Foundational Self Myofascial Foot Release: Great Exercise for Plantar Fasciitis, Bunions, and most foot conditions. This video goes over the logic of doing a myofascial release of the foot. Then it shows you how to release the structures under your foot using a lacrosse ball in combination with some pin and stretch techniques.
Start these strengthening exercises in week 3, for 15 to 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week.
Foot & Ankle Strengthening Routine - Using a Theraband (Follow Along Video): This foot and ankle strengthening routine works the flexors, extensors, internal and external foot rotators using a Theraband.
Pen and Penny (Loonie) Exercise - Foot Doming: The Pen and Loonie exercise is a great way to increase intrinsic muscle foot strength. These muscles can become lazy from excessive use of shoes, especially those that support the arch of the foot. Performing this exercise on a regular basis improves the foot's spring like nature. Your ability to store and release energy. This exercise will give your foot and ankle stability especially for those who have suffered from repeated ankle sprains.
Foot Strengthening - The Salsa Towel Crunch Exercise: This exercise is used to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the foot and increase metatarsal stability. Essentially this exercise strengthens he intrinsic muscles of the foot (Flexor Digitorum Brevis, Abductor Hallucis, Abductor Minimi, Lumbricals, Flexor Hallucis Brevis, Adductor Hallucis, and the Flexor Digiti Minimi Brevis muscles).
Calf Strengthening - Eccentric Calf Raises & Pulsations: The Eccentric Calf Raise is a great way to increase calf strength, without causing further injuries. These dynamic calf-pulsations are ideal exercises for improving sports performance and power. This is an advanced exercise, so before attempting this exercise, make sure you can easily perform the standard Eccentric Calf Raises & Pulsations.
Start these balance & proprioceptive exercises in week 3, and perform them about 5 to 10 minutes, on the same days that you perform the strengthening exercises.
Balance Exercises with a Bosu Ball (or wobble board): Balance training is a fundamental requirement that should not be ignored in either Rehabilitation Therapy or Sports Performance training. Your ability to balance depends on feedback from your auditory, visual, proprioceptive (sense of body position), and vestibular system (relating to the sense of equilibrium). All of these systems must be trained to achieve optimal results. Any time you have a hip, knee, ankle or foot injury you should integrate balance training into your routine.
WHEN EXERCISE IS NOT ENOUGH
In many cases, this combination of exercise and self-care is enough to completely resolve your case of Plantar Fasciitis, but, some cases require more help. When specialized treatment is required, we have found that a combination of both joint mobilization and soft tissue techniques are needed to achieve optimum results.
The following videos demonstrate some of the procedures that we often use to completely resolve cases of Plantar Fasciitis. These procedures must be combined with exercises we have provided to achieve optimal results, and need to be performed by certified practitioners.
Plantar Fasciitis - Manual Foot Procedures: Plantar Fasciitis (PF) affects about 10% of the population over the course of their lives, and commonly occurs in a wide cross-section of athletes (especially runners and dancers). (1) Since there are over seven billion people in the world, this means over 700 million individuals will eventually suffer from this condition at some point in their life.
In this video I demonstrates some the protocols that we could use to treat this painful condition. These are only some of the foot procedures, to address this problem. For more information please read the book I authored in 2015 titled "RESOLVING PLANTAR FASCIITIS".
7 Point Ankle & Foot Mobilization - MSR: Improving joint mobility is critical if you are going to effectively address the body's full kinetic chain. In fact, we greatly reduce the effectiveness of any myofascial treatment if we don’t also address restrictions in joint mobility. The objective of joint mobilization is to reverse adverse physiological changes by promoting movement between capsular fibers.
DR. BRIAN ABELSON DC.
Dr. Abelson believes in running an Evidence Based Practice (EBP). EBP's strive to adhere to the best research evidence available, while combining their clinical expertise with the specific values of each patient.
Dr. Abelson is the developer of Motion Specific Release (MSR) Treatment Systems. His clinical practice in is located in Calgary, Alberta (Kinetic Health). He has recently authored his 10th publications which will be available later this year.
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Diagnosis and Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis., Goff, James D.; Crawford, Robert. 15 September 2011 American Family Physician.84(6): 676–682.