People who struggle with plantar fasciitis are used to feeling pain in their heel, and through the bottom of their foot. This irritating condition is caused by inflammation or degeneration of the plantar fascia, the thick ligament that connects the heel to the front of the foot.
It’s not uncommon to feel a pain that begins as a dull ache but can worsen until it’s sharp and intense. Fortunately, there are plantar fasciitis treatment plans available to relieve pain and improve mobility. This means you can get back to your normal routine of exercise, walking, or even just climbing stairs with ease.
The Mechanics of Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot issues. Many different factors can cause or exacerbate plantar fasciitis, including unsupportive footwear, excessive weight, long periods of standing, poor pronation and foot mechanics, or exercises that place a lot of stress on the heel.
Most people report feeling their worst first thing in the morning, as the muscles in the feet tighten up as we sleep.
How Stretches and Massage Reduce Plantar Fasciitis Pain
Plantar fasciitis might be painful, but there’s a lot we can do to relieve ongoing pain and reduce sensitivity at home.
Resting the foot, icing it to bring down inflammation, and using anti-inflammatory over-the-counter drugs can all be part of a holistic treatment plan to soothe the damaged ligament and get you back to normal.
Another key element of many plantar fasciitis treatment plans is stretching and massages. These techniques help loosen up the tight ligament and encourage blood flow to the area.
Plantar Fasciitis Massages
Both stretching and massages should feel good, or slightly uncomfortable, but never painful. If you feel like you’ve pushed yourself too far, use less pressure or take a break.
Here are some popular massage techniques to try out first.
Use the heel of your hand to massage the sole of your foot, working from your heel towards your toes. Start with light pressure, then increase it gradually.
If you want more targeted pressure, use your thumbs to massage the sole of your foot. Start from the heel, then move towards the toes for 1-2 minutes per foot.
Switch it up by using both thumbs on one foot, going in the opposite directions. Start with both thumbs in the middle, then pull one towards the right side of your foot, and the other towards the left side. Do this 2-3 times to cover the entire length of your sole.
Place a ball under the arch of your foot, then press down on it as you roll it back and forth. This is a great way to get more pressure than your hands can offer. You can use any ball that’s small enough to fit under your foot, like a golf ball, dryer ball, or tennis ball.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
As your ligaments get stronger and more flexible, they become less vulnerable to the overuse injuries that can cause plantar fasciitis.
Stretching can help loosen tight muscles, which is especially beneficial in the morning as it offsets the tightening that can occur while we sleep.
Here are some useful stretches for you to do to help loosen tight fascia.
This is a great stretch to do before you even get out of bed in the morning. Use your hand to pull your big toe up and back towards your ankle. Hold this stretch for at least 15 seconds.
Loop a rolled bath towel around your feet, and stretch out your legs so you’re holding just the ends of the towel. As you hold the ends, pull the towel towards you so it stretches your feet back towards your body. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Plantar Fascia and Calf Stretch
Find a set of stairs, and hold the railing or banister for stability. Stand with your heels hanging over the edge of the step, then relax so that your calf muscles release, pushing your heels lower than the rest of your foot.
How Custom Orthotics Can Also Help Support Plantar Fasciitis
Another way to improve plantar fasciitis is to invest in a pair of custom orthotics, which offer stable arch support that can help alleviate pain. Since many doctors and podiatrists recommend that people with plantar fasciitis wear shoes as much as possible, it’s a good idea to make sure they offer the support you need.
At Orthotics Direct, we offer orthotics that are custom-made to your unique measurements, so you don’t have to worry about getting the fit right. We can even insert them into the shoes of your choice before they ship, so they arrive ready to wear.