Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fasciia is a connective tissue between the heel and the front of your foot. It mainly acts as a stabilizer to the arch of your foot, and also functions as a shock absorber. However, it can be a source of pain for a lot of people.
Over 50% of Americans suffer from this heel pain, and the most generally-known cause of this is plantar fasciitis.
Many plantar fasciitis sufferers experience excruciating heel pain during the morning as they take their first step after getting out of bed. This pain comes from the tightening of the plantar fascia which occurs during sleep. However, stretching or massaging the plantar fascia before standing up often helps in reducing heel pain.
How does plantar Fasciitis progress?
The pain will be present more often, as the plantar fascia deteriorates. You can determine what stage you are in using the following guidelines:
- No heel pain
- Heel pain after exercise
- Heel pain before and after exercise
- Heel pain before, during and after exercise
- Heel pain all the time, including at rest
The thing to remember before/after doing stretches for Plantar Fasciitis
Warming up or stretching before doing physical activities makes your plantar fascia more flexible, thus decreases the chance of injury and inflammation.
You may want to take a pain reliever such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, in order to relieve inflammation and pain. Some people take these pain relievers at least 30 minutes before doing recommended exercises or stretches, to relieve pain and allow them to do and enjoy the exercise. Other people take these pain relievers after the exercise.
After you stretch and exercise, ice your heel in order to help relieve pain and inflammation.
Benefits of plantar fasciitis stretches
Stretching is one of the most popular forms of healing, even for plantar fasciitis. The soft tissue areas of your body are composed of muscles, connective tissues, and tendons. Stretching can help loosen tight muscles and encourages relaxation. Here are some of the benefits of stretching when you have plantar fasciitis.
It promotes muscle relaxation
Stretching the plantar fascia directly targets the source of pain, ultimately minimizing tension and promoting relaxation. It stimulates circulation to injured areas of the plantar fascia, increasing nutrient and oxygen uptake in the muscles. The boost of activity to the affected sites reduces stiffness and swelling, as well as increasing flexibility. Stretching also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones) and boosts dopamine and serotonin levels throughout the body. All the hormones released during the stretching process help the body physically and emotionally, which promotes healing, pain management, and relief.
It improves circulation
A regular plantar fascia stretch is known to boost circulation in the feet. It helps promote increased circulation due to the hands-on pressure, which moves blood through damaged and congested areas of the foot. Squeezing, pulling and twisting removes lactic acid from the muscle tissues. The stretch improves the lymph fluid circulation, which removes any metabolic wasted produced. Adding stretching to your daily routine can deliver the rich blood supply your feet need to promote healing.
It relieves stress
Stressed out after a long day on your feet? Stretching can reduce mental and physical stress. The body is tense and filled with cortisol when you’re stressed out. High levels of cortisol in the body can contribute to weight gain, digestive problems, headaches, and sleeplessness. Studies show that after stretching, cortisol levels drop dramatically, and as cortisol declines, the body enters a recovery mode, which triggers feelings of relaxation and pleasure.
Stretches for plantar fasciitis
Tight muscles around the feet and calves only make the plantar fasciitis pain even worse. Doing these simple stretches regularly can help in significantly reducing the pain. Follow the stretching tips below:
- Stand directly in front of a wall, with both arms outstretched and leaning towards the wall, just like pushing it.
- Bring one leg to the front, with the toes high up against the wall as possible, and the heel remaining on the floor for stability.
- Bend your front leg forward, slowly and gently, with the knee driving towards the wall.
- Keep the knee of your back leg straight, with the heel remaining firmly on the ground.
- Hold the stretch for eight deep breaths, or equivalent to 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Repeat the stretch, this time to your other leg.
If you otherwise do not like the standing part or cannot do standing exercises, you can also do stretches while sitting. These seated stretches are particularly helpful when you’re at your office job which requires you to remain seated for long hours. You can do these stretches during breaks, downtimes, or your free time.
- Sit down and have your affected foot rolling over anything cylindrical and cold, like an ice-cold can or a frozen water bottle.
- Continue rolling for one minute.
- Repeat this procedure to the other foot.
- Cross one leg over your other leg. Get hold of your big toe. Gently, pull the toe towards yourself. Do this three times, then repeat the same procedure to the other leg.
- Place both of your feet to the floor, next to each other. Get a towel and fold it lengthwise. Put the towel under the soles of both feet. Hold both ends of the towel. Gently, pull the feet up and towards you. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then do this again thrice.
These seated exercises help in reducing heel pain. Doing them regularly before workouts can prevent the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis.
There are a few stretches and exercises that are recommended to stretch your fascia, as well other lower extremity stretches which may be soothing and effective in providing pain relief. These stretches are just a few of the many documented options that have worked for others that are going through exactly what you are going through.