by Kelly Collins
The feet are an essential part of the body that is often overlooked. They have a huge role: supporting the weight of our entire body as we stand, walk, run, and jump from one place to another. So it’s no wonder foot pain can be so debilitating. Modern-day trends like high heels and close-toed shoes only serve to make this problem worse.
One of the most common causes of foot pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that is caused by inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting your toes to your heel. It is most commonly characterized by heel pain and is often caused by improper footwear, repetitive movements that cause tearing, obesity, and lack of strength and stability along the arch of the foot. In addition to heel pain, other symptoms of plantar fasciitis include calf tightness, stabbing pain along the bottom of the foot, and more intense pain when you wake up in the morning or after a workout.
Proper stretching and exercises can help to soothe and heal foot pain by stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthening the calves to help improve the stability of the ankles and heel.
Use these stretches one to two times daily to relieve your foot pain. All you need is a yoga block and a tennis ball.
Plantar Fascia Stretch | 30 sec per side, 2X
This gentle stretch relieves tightness along the bottom of the foot, ankle, and calf.
Place a yoga block on the floor. Step the ball of your right foot onto the edge of the block, keeping your heel on the ground.
Slowly shift your weight forward over the block to feel a stretch through your calf, ankle, and plantar fascia.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat each side 2X.
Toe Stretch | 30 sec per side, 3X
This stretch relieves tightness in the plantar fascia, targeting the area around the top of the foot and toes.
Step the ball of your foot and toes onto the center of your block.
Lift the heel up high to start to feel a stretch through the toes and plantar fascia.
To deepen the stretch, slowly shift your weight forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch feet. Repeat each side 3X.
Calf Raises | 10 reps per side
This exercise strengthens the calves and ankles to provide strength and relief to the feet.
Step up onto a block with both feet. Place one hand on a wall for more stability.
Lower your right heel down towards the ground to feel a stretch through your foot and calf.
Then, press up through the ball of your right foot and flex your calf muscle at the top. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch feet.
Tennis Ball Rollout | 60 sec per side
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) is an effective way to massage out knots and tension in the bottom of the feet from the comfort of your home or office.
Sit in a chair and place a tennis ball on the floor in front of you.
Begin by placing the arch of your foot on the ball. Apply some pressure to feel the ball releasing tightness in the fascia.
Then, slowly begin to roll your foot over the ball. Roll up toward your toes slowly, pausing whenever you find a tight spot and holding for 30 seconds. Then, slowly roll back down towards your heel, pausing whenever you find a tight spot and holding for 30 seconds.
After you’ve completed one foot, switch sides.
Heel Pump | 60 sec per side
This exercise strengthens the calf and ankle to release tension in the heel.
Sit in a chair and place a ball on the floor in front of you. Lean your forearms onto your thighs.
Place your heel on top of the tennis ball and the ball of your foot on the floor. Use the resistance of your forearms on your thighs as you pump your heel up and down on the ball.
Continue for 60 seconds, then release and switch sides.
Toe Curl | 10 reps per side
This exercise helps to strengthen your plantar fascia.
Place the ball of your foot up on your tennis ball, keeping your heel on the floor.
Curl your toes around the top of the ball like you are going to try to pick it up.
Squeeze for a moment, then release and spread your toes wide. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch feet.
Kelly is a certified Personal Trainer with NASM, a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher, and has her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from San Diego State University. In addition to wellness coaching, she runs yoga and wellness retreats around the world with her company Elevated Retreats. www.paleoplan.com/2019/02-13/plantar-fasciitis-exercises