Plantar Fasciitis Rehabilitation Program

Plantar fasciitis exercises

This Plantar fasciitis rehabilitation program will take you through the steps needed to cure Plantar fasciitis. Our simple two-strand solution includes treatment, exercises, taping, and massage.


The aims of plantar fasciitis treatment are:

  • To decrease pain and inflammation
  • Identify and correct possible causes
  • Improve flexibility
  • Gradually increase strength and returning to full fitness.

Phase 1 treatment

The first phase emphasizes rest and aims to reduce initial pain and inflammation to the point where you can walk pain-free in the mornings.

Rest

  • Rest from activities that cause pain.
  • Stay off your feet as much as you can and use crutches if necessary.

No single treatment method is likely to be successful on its own, however, a combination of approaches can be effective.

Footwear

  • Wear comfortable trainers with good cushioning.
  • Avoid hard flat soles or high heels.
  • Avoid walking in bare feet, especially on hard surfaces. This will increase the strain on the plantar fascia tissue, under your foot.

Cold therapy

  • Apply cold therapy.
  • Ice massage or application of a cold pack for 10 minutes every hour for the first day.
  • Reduce to 3-5 times a day as symptoms ease.

Taping

Plantar fasciitis taping
  • Tape your foot to protect and support the fascia until you can walk pain-free.
  • If plantar fasciitis taping is effective then it is likely that orthotics will also be effective.
  • They will help correct poor foot biomechanics and help to prevent your injury returning.

Medication

  • A doctor may prescribe NSAID’s (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) e.g. ibuprofen in the early stages.
  • Always check with a doctor before taking any medication.
  • Do not take Ibuprofen if you have asthma.

Orthotics

Overpronation

If your feet roll in or overpronate then this can contribute to the strain on your foot.

  • This is because overpronation tends to flatten the arch, overstretching the plantar fascia.
  • As a result damage to the collagen fibers within the fascia occurs.
  • This can be corrected by orthotic inserts, preferably fitted by a sports injury professional or podiatrist. However, off the shelf shoe inserts are often appropriate.
  • The inserts should be worn at all times. Not just when training.

Phase 1 exercises

No running!

  • Walking or any other activity which causes pain either during, after or the following day.

Stretching

Plantar fascia stretching
  • If pain allows, gentle stretching exercises for the plantar fascia should begin.
  • In addition, stretching the calf muscles at the back of your lower leg is also important.
  • Continue stretching daily throughout this rehabilitation phase as well as long after your injury has healed.
Plantar fasciitis night splint

Night splint

  • Wear a plantar fasciitis night splint.
  • This is an effective treatment option which helps prevent your plantar fascia and calf muscles tightening up overnight. As a result, the initial pain felt first thing in the morning is reduced.
  • Initially, a night splint can feel uncomfortable. Try to wear it as long as is comfortable, overnight if possible.
  • If you can only manage 1 hour then gradually increase over time. If it is painful then remove it.
  • Do not give up, once you can wear it for a number of hours overnight, you are well on your way to being cured.

Maintain fitness

  • Try to maintain fitness by swimming or cycling.
  • Perhaps use the opportunity to work on upper body strength for a while or some other aspect of training.
  • It is important to try to maintain some kind of training routine for mental health reasons.

You are ready to move onto phase two when you can walk pain-free in the mornings.


Phase 2 treatment

The second phase of plantar fasciitis treatment aims to get you back to full fitness once the initial pain and inflammation has gone.

Cold therapy

  • Continue with to apply ice, or a cold pack 2 – 3 times a day.
  • Make sure you apply cold after activity such as walking, even if you do not think you are in pain. Try to prevent inflammation and pain before it develops.

Massage

Plantar fasciitis massage
  • Deep tissue sports massage techniques for the plantar fascia can be applied.
  • This will help to further stretch and improve the elasticity of your plantar fascia.
  • Initially, massage may be light on a daily basis but deeper techniques can be used as the condition improves.
  • Deeper techniques may require a days recovery in between sessions.

Ball rolling

Plantar Fasciitis ball rolling exercise
  • If you are unable to see a massage therapist regularly then roll the foot over a ball or rolling pin or similar to help stretch and apply myofascial release.
  • Do this exercise for 10 minutes per day.
  • Continue with this until foot fitness has been regained.
  • If the pain becomes worse then drop back to phase 1.

Phase 2 exercises

Stretching exercises

Night splint

  • Aim to wear the night splint for at least 5 hours, longer if possible.

Walking

  • When you have gone at least a week with no pain then you can begin to slowly start to increase the loads on the foot.
  • Start off by walking and increase the distance and speed you walk until you can walk at a fast pace for at least 30 minutes with no pain.
  • This should be a gradual process. If you feel pain at any time then go back a step.

You are ready to move on when you can walk 30 minutes without any pain during, after or the following day.


Phase 3 – Returning to full fitness

  • Ensure you have the correct shoes for your running style or sport.
  • After every training session apply ice to the foot for about ten minutes.
  • Ensure you stretch properly before each training session and after.
  • Hold stretches for about 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.

Below is an example of a gradual return to running program. Begin each training session with a 5-minute walk followed by a stretch.

  • Day 1 – walk 3 mins, jog 1 min, repeat 4 times
  • Day 2 – rest
  • Day 3 – walk 3 mins, jog 2 mins, repeat 4 times
  • Day 4 – rest
  • Day 5 – walk 2 mins, jog 3 mins, repeat 4 times
  • Day 6 – rest
  • Day 7 – walk 2 mins, jog 4 mins, repeat 4 times

Continue this until you are confident enough to return to full training.

This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.