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4 Physiotherapy Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis and Pain Relief

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

In this article I will be discussing the causes and symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, and how physiotherapy exercises can help.

The Plantar Fascia is the thick ligament on the sole of your foot. It originates from your heel bone and spread out in a triangular shape attaching to the base of your toes. Plantar Fasciitis is the painful irritation of this ligament.

Causes and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is often caused by repetitive strain, leading to microtrauma and inflammation, which can be experienced as a sharp pain in the heel or sole of the foot when weight-bearing. The Plantar Fascia is essential in the biomechanics of gait, anything walking, running or jumping really.

During a physiotherapy assessment symptoms I listen out for include:

  • Pain on waking up taking those first few steps out of bed ‘like walking on hot coals’

  • Sharp stabbing pain around the heel and sole of the foot on loading

  • Better or worse depending on footwear - often worse with unsupportive, flat footwear such as flip-flops

Physiotherapy Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis Exercise 1: Rolling out the soles of your feet

This is an excellent home remedy for pain relief with Plantar Fasciitis.

From previous experience, using something small and firm is ideal - like a golf ball. Roll the ball up, down and across the sole of the foot in order to loosen up the tissue.

Try this 3-5x throughout the day whilst sitting down for 60seconds at a time per foot!

*Bonus tip - use a small frozen bottle of water instead of a golf ball when very acutely painful to get the added bonus of cooling down the inflammation!

Plantar Fasciitis Exercise 2: Big Toe and calf stretching

The muscle that controls the bending of the big toe runs under the sole of the foot and is often irritated by the same repetitive movements, which cause Plantar Fasciitis.

Using your fingers to pull the big toe backwards, or using a doorframe or wall to do the same is another excellent tool to relieve pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis

Try This 3x per day when sitting - pull the big toe back and hold for 30 seconds

Plantar Fasciitis Exercise 3: Strengthening the muscles of the foot

When something becomes painful in the body, that pain often inhibits the surrounding muscles and reduces their activity to relieve pain.

This, however, is a vicious cycle as weak muscles often lead to aches and pains. Using a Teatowel under the sole of the foot and then contracting the muscles in the feet to scrunch up the towel is a good way to begin strengthening during Plantar Fasciitis

Try this 4x per day with 15 scrunches of the towel per foot.

Plantar Fasciitis Exercise 4: Strengthening the muscles of the calf

Simple exercises can go a long way.

Calf raises help to strengthen the lower limb including the muscles of the feet and as a functional exercise, there is lots of carryover into normal life.

Try to complete 3 sets fo 12 repetitions each foot per day

*Bonus tip: Roll up a towel and place under the toes to increase the stretch and contraction of the exercise!

What’s next? Preventing the Reemergence of Plantar Fasciitis

Now that you have treated the cause of the injury, you no longer have to manage the symptoms and you can go about your life as you so wish. However, the caveat to this is that there is a reason why this happened in the first place.

Repetitive strain injuries are linked to poor movement biomechanics, muscle weakness or just simple overuse. We can not let you make the same mistakes again, so if you are not prepared to make the necessary changes to your routine you may fall victim once again. Aim to maintain or add to your strength and stretching routine to prevent future injury.

If this sounds familiar to you or someone you know, do not hesitate to get in touch so we can arrange an assessment.

I am available for face-to-face physio in Highbury & Islington, or online for virtual physio.

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