Once the swelling subsides and the initial, severe foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis is under control, you can begin some simple rehab techniques: stretching and massaging.
- Gingerly massage your foot as often as you can, slowly stretching and contracting the plantar fascia. Often, you can find a massage therapist who is trained and specialized to treat foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
- As soon as your pain subsides enough to even consider trying this one, place a golf ball on the floor and, from a seated position, gently roll it along the bottom of your foot.
- As your foot becomes less tender, you can start gently stretching it. Gently stretching your feet, calves, and Achilles tendon every day will keep them loose and feeling fine.
Stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis
Some recommended stretches include:
- While sitting, stretch your legs straight out in front of you and curl your toes toward your body for a nice stretch.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and a towel draped around the ball of your foot. Use the ends of the towel to slowly pull your toes toward you, stretching your plantar fascia. Hold for 30 seconds and release. Repeat this stretch ten times on each foot.
- Stand with your hands flat against a wall at shoulder height, with elbows bent. With your feet flat on the floor, slightly bend the front knee and straighten the back leg. Slowly push yourself away from the wall to stretch your calf and Achilles tendon.
At VibrantNation.com, the leading online community for women over 50, one member suggests the following exercises: toe taps.
“Keep the heel on the floor and lift all of the toes off the floor. Tap only the big toe to the floor while keeping the outside four toes in the air. Next, keep the big toe in the air and tap the other four toes to the floor. To stretch the plantar fascia, stand facing a wall. With the heel on the floor, the toes rest against the wall. Make an upward movement with the ankle by bringing the knee towards the wall. The toes are extended, stretching the plantar fascia.”
Plantar fasciitis can seem at its worst in the mornings when you first get up and at the end of the day, after you have been on your feet all day. Plan on stretching several times a day, at around these times. One Vibrant Nation member says, “I do foot exercises when I get into bed and before I get up in the morning. It warms up the plantar muscle in the arch of my foot.”
When the above stretching exercises start to feel good, it may be time to move on to the stair steps. On the edge of a step, stand on the balls of your feet, then very slowly and gradually lower your heels. Return to the starting position and repeat several times. You can do this exercise three or four times each day to keep your plantar fascia and connecting tissues limber and less likely to become injured again.
Consider bracing your foot at night
Several Vibrant Nation members recommend wearing a boot or night splint to keep the plantar fascia gently stretched during sleep. As one Vibrant Nation member explained, “Sometimes heavy bedding or tightly tucked in bottom sheets causes the foot to plantar flex at night, exacerbating the problem. If taking heavy bedding off feet or loosening the sheets doesn’t help, a nighttime brace may be a good idea.”
Another Vibrant Nation member agrees: “What really helped me was wearing a night splint (like a boot) when I slept. The splint took some getting used to — but it worked. I think if I had found out about that earlier, I would have healed sooner.” Another Vibrant Nation member explains the effectiveness of the night splint this way: “The brace keeps my foot from dropping, and prevents me from pointing my toes at night which would allow the muscles to shorten, and in turn cause pain.”
Remember to do stretches and massage in moderation. You don’t want to overstretch. If your pain levels start to increase after stretching or massaging, consider applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medication. The more flexible you are, the easier it is to avoid injury, so take every opportunity to stay loose.
For more plantar fasciitis treatment options, download a FREE copy of Vibrant Nation’s special report 5 Quick Fixes for Immediate Foot Pain Relief.