Updated: Jun 13
It's that time of year where (if we are lucky enough) we spend most of our time in flip flops or enjoy walking on the beach. But unfortunately, it is also the time of year where some of us will experience pain in in the base of our foot. The most common cause of this pain is PLANTAR FASCIITIS! So what is it? What Causes it? How Do I Treat it? and Can I stop it from coming back? All of these questions will be answered in the blog as we will give you the background and give you the best 10 exercises to help treat, rehabilitate and prevent it reoccurring.
Plantar Fasciitis is an overuse condition affecting the plantar fascia (tensile tissue under your foot) at the point where it attaches to your heel. Most people describe it as a sharp stabbing pain in the base of the foot. The area of pain is usually down the build up of inflammation at its attachment point. Plantar faciitis is responsible for around 80% of heel pain complaints in the UK.
So, What Causes it?
There are a few possible causes for Plantar Fasciitis, with the possibility of one or a few of the causes actually causing the problem. These possible causes are;
Lack of Support from shoe (Most common cause, usually flip flops or sliders in the summer)
Running on Hard Surfaces
Arch problems (high arches or flat feet)
Training Errors (Incorrect technique when training legs)
Overuse (Are you walking/running excessive mile, especially in the heat)
Over Pronation (Does your foot roll in?)
Poor flexibility in your calves
Tight Achilles tendon
What Can I Do if I have it?
Immediate treatment - Rest and Ice are your best friend, as this will allow the inflammation to reduce. Anti-inflammatories are also key in this phase.
After the immediate treatment - Rehabilitation and Prevention
Massage Therapy - this allows the plantar fascia to relax and also loosens the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
Stretches/Exercises - these help to relieve pressure on the plantar fascia and to strengthen the surrounding structures to help prevent it from coming back.
Manipulation - Manipulations can help with any bio-mechanical dysfunctions and joint malpositions in the foot, knee, pelvis and low back.
Taping - this can be used to support the foot and decrease the pressure on the plantar fascia.
Heel Pads or Orthotics - These help to support the foot (Consult a Health Care Practitioner before buying).
Acupuncture - This has been proven to release the tension in the plantar fascia.
The 10 Best Exercises and Stretches fot Plantar Fasciitis:
*If you experience any severe pain during these exercise stop immediately and seek advice from either us or your local healthcare provider*
1. Ice Bottle or Ball Release.
This can be performed using a bottle or frozen water (better in intial stages) or using a hard ball (tennis, hockey, cricket even a golf ball). Ideally barefoot, roll the bottle or ball on the soft arch part of the foot. DO NOT push onto the heel bone (Sore bit). Start lightly and increase the pressure gradually. You should feel less soreness and/or tightness when getting up to walk.
2. Marble Pick-Ups
This is another enjoyable exercise where you can stand or remain seated. You should aim to spend 5 minutes a day doing this exercise with each foot.Place a bowl on the floor and some marbles or similar sized small balls or objects (such as stones) in front of you.Pick up each marble using just your toes and transfer them to the bowl.
This exercise is one of the easiest to do as you remain seated for the whole duration of it. Aim to complete two sets of this exercise with each foot a day.Begin by laying out a towel on the floor and place your foot flat on top.Now draw the towel towards yourself as you scrunch your toes (make sure that your heel remains in contact with the floor throughout the exercise).
Weakness of the calf muscle can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis, as it directly affects how the foot moves. Heel raises can strengthen calf muscles and are simple to carry out. Aim to complete 3 sets of heel raises and 10 repetitions a day.Start by standing and resting both your feet flat on the floor. If you require support feel free to hold onto something.Push up with the balls of your feet and raise your heels off the ground. Hold this tip-toe position for a couple of seconds then lower yourself back down slowly.
5. Tip Toe Walking
Spend a couple of minutes every day walking around on your tiptoes to strengthen your calf muscles as well as improve the control and stability you have around your ankles. It may help to use a support such as a walking frame or walking stick.
6.Single Leg Standing
You can easily build this simple step into part of your daily routine. Just lift one foot off the floor and balance on the other foot, for 5 minutes twice a day. This can help you improve your balance and the control you have in your feet and ankles, which makes it an excellent exercise for preventing plantar fasciitis.
7. Towel Stretch
This is an easy stretch you can do while sitting on the floor or on your bed.Sit down on the floor or bed with both your legs outstretched in front of you.Place a towel which is rolled up underneath the balls of your feet and hold the towel from both ends.Gently pull the towel towards yourself while keeping your knees straight.Hold this position for half a minute and you will feel some instant pain relief, as well as being able to stretch out your muscles and ligaments on the base of your foot.
Aim to do this stretch twice per session, several times a day.Sit on a chair and extend the leg of the foot which is affected by plantar fasciitis, make sure that your heel is on the floor.Reach down and pull your big toe upwards and back towards yourself away from the floor.Hold this position for up to thirty seconds.
9. Heel Raises on the Stairs
This is very similar to the exercise as above, however a little more challenging. Do this in sets of 10, 3 times a day.Stand on a step with your heels over the edge of the step.Push up on the balls of your feet and complete a heel raise. As you lower yourself back down make sure that your heel does not drop below the level of the step.
10. Calf Rolling (Foam Roller or Ball)
Start sitting on the floor with legs extended out in front of you. Place the roller or ball under left calf. Rest right foot on the floor or cross right ankle over left for extra pressure. Use your hands to press hips off floor, then roll from the ankle to below the knee. Rotate left leg in, then out. Repeat on right calf.
A few things you can buy to help with your plantar fasciitis are heel supports, massage balls and foam rollers click the links below to see a few of our favourites: