Plantar Fasciitis is a painful overuse injury and the healing process can be long and frustrating. While orthotics and supportive shoes can help, I’m grateful that there are a lot of plantar fasciitis exercises you can do to both speed up your recovery and relieve your pain.
Not a sufferer of plantar fasciitis? That’s okay. These 8 plantar fasciitis exercises also serve to strengthen your feet, lowering your likelihood of developing the injury.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
The first of our plantar fasciitis exercises is the towel scrunch. Lay a towel or Theraband out on the floor and stand or sit with your foot behind it. Keeping your heel on the ground, use your toes to grab the towel and pull it toward you. Release and repeat until you reach the end of the towel. For added muscle work, use your toes to push the towel back out and away from you, again keeping your heel on the ground.
Want to amp this exercise up? Place a small weighted item on the far edge of the towel and perform the exercise as written.
Repeat 3 times on each foot.
Whether you suffer from plantar fasciitis, fallen arches, or even just achy arches, the short foot exercise will be your best friend. Think of this as crunches for your arches!
If you’re new to this exercise start by sitting down. Plant your foot on the ground and press your toes into the ground. Imagine suction cupping your foot to the floor and contract your arch for three seconds. As you are doing this, a small space should appear between your arch and the floor.
Repeat for 15-20 reps on each foot.
All workouts have an eccentric and concentric stage. Concentric is when the muscle is contracting- think lifting a dumbbell in a bicep curl. Eccentric is the part of the movement that’s lengthening and working with gravity- think the lowering of a dumbbell in a bicep curl.
Strengthening our feet and calves for both eccentric and concentric movements will increase the control we see in landing jumps and lowering out of turns and piqués. Added strength means higher endurance and higher endurance means you’ll be less prone to an overuse injury.
So to perform these Eccentric Relevés stand in parallel and relevé. Shift your weight to one foot, and slowly lower your heel to the floor.
For an added challenge, perform these on a stair and drop your heel below the stair between reps.
Repeat for 12 reps on each leg.
Internal External Ankle Rotations
Dancers love a winged foot! But that means that while our external ankle rotations are great, our internal rotations can be fairly weak.
Take a set so your feet aren’t touching the floor. Use your ankle muscles to wing your foot (pull your pinky toe toward the outside of your calf). Perform ten reps this way, then reverse, using your ankle muscles to sickle your foot (pull your big toe toward the opposite foot.
Repeat 10 reps in each direction on both legs.
Toe pulls are one of the best plantar fasciitis exercises to alleviate pain. To perform, flex your foot and grab your big toe with your fingers. Gently pull backward until you feel a stretch in the underside of your foot and calf. Hold here for thirty seconds at a time and switch feet.
Plantar Fasciitis can be further aggravated by tight calves as it puts additional pressure on your plantar fascia. That’s why continually stretching your calves is a good way to help alleviate discomfort from plantar fasciitis.
To perform, face a wall and stagger your feet, one in front of the other. Pressing against the wall with your hands, bend your front knee keeping your back foot planted on the ground and the leg straight. Breathe here for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Roll Them Out
Rolling out the bottoms of your feet regularly is a great way to mitigate the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. To do this, you can use a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or my favorite, a frozen water bottle. Icing is a great way to decrease inflammation in stressed muscles. Combining ice with the benefits of rolling out the muscles is a double whammy against pain and inflammation!
Marble Grab and Drop
The last of our plantar fasciitis exercises is one of my absolute favorites because it’s sort of a game! To perform, find a handful of small objects, like marbles, thimbles, scrunchies, or even wine corks will work. Dump them out on the floor and place a bowl next to them. Then, using your toes, pick up the objects one at a time. Once held by your foot, use your internal or external ankle rotation to drop the object into the bowl. Repeat with the opposite rotation (internal or external) then switch feet.
Each of these exercises can be done at home while you’re watching TV and they can’t be done too much. Ideally, you perform these plantar fasciitis exercises even when you aren’t having a flare up- that way your feet are getting stronger and stronger. And strong feet are happy feet!
So say goodbye to achy arches at the ballet barre and pain in your heels when you’re on your feet all day. And if you want even more specific help strengthening yourself against injuries or even working out around one, check out Body Mechanics, a program designed to teach you everything you need to know to care for, nourish, and train your body for optimal success.