Plantar Fascia Stretches

Woman stretching on city steps
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Plantar fasciitis stretches may be prescribed by your physical therapist to help improve your overall foot mobility. Performing plantar fascia stretches regularly may be one component of your rehab program.

Plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous band that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain that is initially worse in the morning. Stretching the plantar fascia can help decrease the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. 

If you have plantar fasciitis, you may benefit from physical therapy to treat your pain and to get your foot feeling normal again. Your PT may use various treatments and modalities, and he or she will likely prescribe exercises to treat your condition. He or she can also tell you what to STOP doing that may be making your symptoms worse. If you develop foot pain, starting physical therapy first is a good choice.

Here is a list of exercises that your physical therapist may prescribe for plantar fasciitis. Check in with your doctor before starting this exercise program to ensure that it is safe for you to do.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
  2. Loop a towel around the top of your affected foot
  3. Pull the towel towards you until a stretch is felt across the bottom of your foot
  4. Hold for 30 seconds then relax, and then repeat 10 times
  1. Stand facing a wall and place your hands straight out on the wall
  2. Step back with your affected foot keeping it flat on the floor
  3. Move the other leg forward and slowly lean in toward the wall
  4. Stop when you feel a stretch through the calf
  5. Hold for 30 seconds then relax, and repeat 10 times

Stair Stretch

  1. Stand on a step on the balls for your feet
  2. Hold the rail for balance
  3. Slowly lower the heel of the injured foot until a stretch is felt
  4. Hold for 30 seconds then relax. Repeat 10 times

Can Roll

  1. Sit in a chair
  2. Roll your injured foot (without a shoe on) back and forth from the tip of the toes to the heel over a can
  3. Repeat ten times in both directions

You can help treat the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis by performing the can roll with an ice bottle in a technique called the ice bottle massage.

Toe Stretch

  1. Sit on the floor with your knee bent and foot flat on the floor
  2. Pull the toes back on the injured foot until stretch across the arch is felt
  3. Hold for 30 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times

Plantar Fascia Toe Stretch

  1. Remove your shoe
  2. Stand facing a wall, and place the ball of your foot on the wall. Your toes should be extended up the wall
  3. Slowly press down, stretching your toe backward and elongating your plantar fascia
  4. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds.
  5. Repeat five times.

Your PT may prescribe these stretches to be done regularly throughout the day, but you should stop if any stretch causes lasting increases in your pain. In that case, check in with your doctor or physical therapist.

A Word from Verywell

If you have foot pain due to plantar fasciitis, you may benefit from some gentle foot and ankle stretches to start treating your condition. Your physical therapist can help you determine which stretches are best for you to be doing. By working hard in physical therapy and by being vigilant about your plantar fasciitis exercises, you can maximize your chances of returning back to your normal activity quickly and safely.

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Article Sources

  1. Tu P, Bytomski JR. Diagnosis of heel pain. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(8):909-16.

  2. Schwartz EN, Su J. Plantar fasciitis: a concise reviewPerm J. 2014;18(1):e105–e107. doi:10.7812/TPP/13-113