What exercises can help treat plantar fasciitis?

Dr. William S. Lynde, DPM
Podiatrist (Foot Specialist)

Before treating plantar fasciitis with exercise, you first must realize that the injury is not a bruise, nor is it related to weight. Instead, it's a painful heel and/or arch where the ligament—the plantar fascia—is over pulled.

The simplest and most effective exercise for treating the over pulled fascia and to fight inflammation is this: Fill a water bottle with water and freeze it. Sit on a chair and roll the bottle from your heel to the ball of your foot, putting pressure on it. Another exercise: Stretch the foot by rolling a tennis ball under it, again applying pressure. This will help relieve the tightness, but the aid of ice does far more to relieve the pain and prevent the pain from becoming chronic.

You could do some range of motion exercises that consist of pointing your toes and bringing your foot up to your chest, then down to the ground, and then inward and outward to bring strength back to your foot. You could also roll a marble around the underside of your foot. This can help to break up the tissue. If you can find a smooth surface such as a hardwood or tile floor, you could use a hand towel and curl it up with your toes. This helps build strength. If the pain is persistent over a long period or gets worse, contact your doctor.

This answer provided for NATA by the California University of Pennsylvania Athletic Training Education Program.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Plantar fasciitis can cause intense pain in the foot and heal, but you can get relief by practicing an ancient Chinese martial art. Watch the video as a Tai Chi expert shares with Dr. Oz how a few slow, gentle exercises can help treat plantar fasciitis.

Exercises to help treat plantar fasciitis stretch the arch of your foot. You can accomplish this in a number of ways. For example, you can manually massage the bottom of your foot with your hands or you can massage the bottom of your foot with a frozen food can. The frozen food can acts to loosen the tissue, fascia and muscles of the foot and has a cooling effect.

You can also stretch the fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments by utilizing a belt or towel. Sit on the ground with both of your legs in front of you. Wrap either a belt or towel around the ball of your foot and pull your toes toward your shin. If this does not accomplish a good stretch, stand on the edge of a staircase or platform while holding onto a railing and hang your heels off the stair. Do these stretches and massages on the bottom of your feet on a daily basis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.