Exercises for Recovery From or Prevention of Plantar Fasciitis

These stretching exercises may be helpful during recovery from or for prevention of plantar fasciitis.

Stretching exercises are used to increase the flexibility of the muscles of the thigh and calf and of the plantar fascia itself. Tightness in the muscles of the leg can result in disproportionate stress being applied to the plantar fascia during walking and running, increasing the risk of injury. Stretching exercises for the plantar fascia itself can increase the flexibility of the fascia and thus reduce the potential for damage. Five examples of stretching exercises with illustrations follow:

Wall gastrocnemius stretch

Wall Gastrocnemius Stretch

The gastrocnemius is one of major muscle groups in the calf. To stretch this muscle, place your hands against the wall and stand with both feet flat on the floor, one foot forward of the other. Keep the rearmost leg straight and the foot pointed straight ahead. Lean forward without arching the back, placing your weight on the forward leg while bending it at the knee. You should feel stretching in the mid-calf of the straight leg. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, release, and then repeat 6-8 times. Reverse the position of the legs and then stretch the other leg.

Stair gastrocnemius stretch

Stair Gastrocnemius Stretch

The gastrocnemius can also be stretched using a simple exercise that can be performed while standing on a stair. Stand with the ball of the foot on the edge of a stair and heels off the step. While holding the banister for balance, rise as high as possible on the toes and then lower yourself slowly as far as you can without rolling the foot inward or outward for 1-2 seconds and then repeat 10-20 times.

Soleus stretch

Soleus Stretch

The soleus is the other major muscle in the calf. To stretch this muscle, assume a position similar to that for the Wall Gastrocnemius Stretch but with both of the legs bent and the buttocks dropped. Make sure your feet are facing straight ahead and not turned out. Gently lean into the wall and keep your heels on the floor while bending both knees, putting a little more weight on the back leg. Continue until you feel stretching in your lower calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.

Hamstring stretch

Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring is a major muscle of the thigh that runs from just below the knee to the buttocks and lifts the lower leg and bends the knee. If the hamstring istoo tight, the bend in the knee during walking and running is exaggerated, which, in turn, results in increased pull on the heel bone and too much tension in the plantar fascia.

To stretch the hamstring, lie with your back flat to the floor with your eyes focused upward. Grasp the back of the thigh with both hands and, with the leg bent, pull the thigh until it is perpendicular to the floor and then slowly straighten the knee. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Wall push-up
Wall push-up

Wall Push-up

Stand arm’s length from a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping the feet pointing straight ahead, keeping the knees locked straight and your buttocks and back straight, bend elbows so your head can rest on the wall. Hold for a slow count of 10. Repeat 10 times. Should be done twice a day and preferably without shoes.