The following Plantar fasciitis stretches form part of our step-by-step rehab program. They specifically focus on stretching the plantar fascia under the foot as well as the calf muscles.
Medically reviewed by Dr Chaminda Goonetilleke, 4th Jan. 2022
Plantar fasciitis is a very stubborn condition to treat. Therefore, a combination of approaches is essential. Plantar fasciitis stretches are an important component and you should do them regularly each day.
Plantar fasciitis stretches for the foot
These stretches specifically target the plantar fascia itself. The fascia is a band of tissue originating from the heel and inserting under the forefoot.
Plantar fascia stretch (with massage)
If you only do one Plantar fasciitis stretch then this is the one to do because it specifically targets the Plantar fascia. In addition to stretching the fascia, use your thumb to gently massage under your foot, releasing tension.
Take your big toe and gently bend it upwards. Using your thumb, apply gentle pressure going as deep as you comfortably can. As tension releases, stretch your big toe up a little further and repeat the massage. Do this three to four times a couple of times a day.
Toe on the heel
This is another of the Plantar fasciitis stretches which specifically targets the fascia itself. Place one foot in front of the other and gently press your toe into the heel of the front foot. Bend your back knee to increase the stretch. Hold for approximately 30 seconds and repeat four times.
Plantar fasciitis stretches for the calf muscles
The calf muscles are the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles at the back of the lower leg.
Sustained calf stretch
Wrap a resistance band or strap around your feet and sit upright in a comfortable position. Then gently pull up on the band until you feel a very gentle stretch in your calf muscles. Hold the stretch for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not force this one or try to stretch too far too soon because it may become progressively more painful. If you are in pain then you cannot relax. As a result, your muscles tighten, not stretch.
Calf stretches bent and straight leg
Bent knee calf stretch targets the deeper Soleus muscle at the back of your lower leg. Stand with the leg you want to stretch at the back. Bend your knee and ease in to feel a stretch lower down at the back of your leg Stretch with your back knee straight to target the larger Gastrocnemius muscle. Both are important for treating Plantar fasciitis.
Foot rolling stretches for Plantar fasciitis
Another way to stretch the Plantar fascia is to roll your foot over a ball or cylinder. Spike massage balls are a gentle option. A frozen bottle of water is ideal as you get the pain-relieving effects of cold therapy whilst you stretch the foot.
Plantar fasciitis stretches for nerve tissue
These Plantar fasciitis stretches work the nerve tissue, in particular the sciatic nerve.
Neural flossing plantar fasciitis stretch
This gently mobilises the nerve tissue, specifically the sciatic nerve. Lie on your back and hold one leg. Straighten your leg and lift your head up to increase the stretch. Your head follows your foot as you turn the tension on and off. Do not force it. This should be a relaxed Plantar fasciitis exercise.
Alternatives include rolling a tennis ball under your foot, or a frozen bottle of water to combine cold therapy as well.
Plantar fasciitis sock/night splint
You wear the Plantar fasciitis sock overnight. It helps prevent your plantar fascia from tightening up whilst you sleep. This happens naturally when in bed so when you begin to walk in the morning it pulls at the attachment to the heel. Repetitive strain leads to inflammation and eventually degeneration of the fascia.
A Plantar fasciitis sock or night splint gently prevents your foot arch from tightening. Over time it naturally lengthens, reducing strain on your heel. So which is best? The splint or the sock?
Having sold and used both myself, I find both to be highly effective. I prefer a sock these days because it is easier to put on and more comfortable to wear in bed.