Recently a member of my Patreon Community, asked me “how to get relief for plantar fasciitis”. This is familiar territory for me. Because when I trained for my first half marathon I got plantar fasciitis pretty bad. Terrible pain. Especially in the mornings, or when I’d get up from sitting a while. I tried a LOT of things to help and I’m going to share my tips & tricks that helped me relieve my pain. These included massage, tennis ball, stretches, ice, yoga poses, exercises, and more importantly finding the cause! Which for me was my running shoes!
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Relief for plantar fasciitis
Firstly let’s get the disclaimer out the way. These are what I personally tried to help with pain relief for plantar fasciitis. I am not a doctor. But in my journey as a personal trainer, yoga teacher, movement educator, and anatomy nerd, I’ve learned a lot during my 25 years as a fitness and wellness professional. Remember for any chronic condition – seek medical advice. Disclosure: As a reminder links in this post may be affiliate links. Meaning I earn a small commission on purchases made through those links, at no extra cost to you. This just helps support me in producing content.
Gentle massage is one of the first things I suggest for anyone dealing with foot issues. Barring broken bones, this just plain feels awesome. You can massage manually with your hands. Or my preferred way, using a tennis ball. If you’re standing on your feet a lot I highly recommend using a tennis ball. Also if you do a lot of hiking or running a tennis ball can prove some easy relief for plantar fasciitis.
Using your hands just get in with your thumbs running up and down the length of the plantar muscle on the underside of the foot. Using the ball is easier on the hands as you use your body weight on the ball and move the foot along the ball. For a five-minute follow-along video all about using the ball for a foot massage then check out THIS POST.
Ice & Massage with frozen water bottle
One step further from the tennis ball, and the biggest single factor that helped MY plantar fasciitis was ice and massage combined. You can do this by using the tennis ball massage technique with a frozen water bottle. Personally I found the smaller the bottle the better it’s able to get into the curves of the foot.
For me, this was the major thing that helped give me pain relief for plantar fasciitis. I had a couple of bottles in the freezer ready to ice massage through the day. If the bottle is too harsh, then place a towel over it to reduce the shock.
Plantar Stretches & Yoga Poses
Once you are out of the pain cave, you can begin some simple stretches for the plantar. Which could be using a strap, as shown below. Ideally, you want the toes and ball of the foot drawing to the hip. Think about toes tucked, like in downward-facing dog.
Or other yoga poses with the toes tucked. My favorite yoga pose that stretches the Plantar is vajrasana, thunderbolt pose. While this is a great pose for providing relief for plantar fasciitis, this also may be a little intense initially. So focus on staying on the soft side of the stretch. The more your torso leans forward the less stress on the bottom of your foot.
For a tutorial on vajrasana, including modifications and variations then check out my full post on thunderbolt pose. It’s a challenging pose, but so good for tight ankles and calves. Plus a fantastic stretch for the plantar!
Yoga Poes for calf & soleus
If you feel that tight calves are your issue then try some other yoga poses like downward dog, and warrior poses. Down dog is especially good if you take a slow “walk” in the pose focusing on drawing the heel back and down on the straight leg.
Warrior one is great for stretching the calf of the back leg if the foot points forward. And stepping the foot in to allow the back knee to bend a little will send the stretch lower into the soleus. An easy one-two stretch during your practice. In previous posts I’ve shared tips on releasing tight calves using tennis ball, and a 30-minute practice for calves and ankles. If you’d like to see more of this type of content then let me know in the comments.
Stretch with step or blocks
Many of us will have done this quick and easy calf stretch using a step, or in this case yoga blocks. Standing on an elevated surface, drop one heel off the step and lower towards the ground. This can stretch the calf and plantar in one.
The other way is to stack two yoga blocks against a wall as shown above. Allowing the foot some support for the stretch. To increase this stretch shift the hips, and bodyweight, forward.
Tools for stretches – foot rocker
If you’re not a yogi and don’t have yoga blocks around or a step to hang your heel off, don’t panic! There is a nifty piece of equipment called a foot rocker that will do the job too! My husband loves this, and so do I. Perfect for post-run stretching for the calves, and no step required!
This tool is perfect for anyone, like us, that doesn’t have steps or stairs. If you are wanting to improve ankle mobility or calf flexibility I highly recommend it! You can find it on Amazon. Not sponsored, this is something we bought, personally use, and love.
Exercises for your plantar – tissue grab, piano/ocean wave toes,
Once you’ve found some relief for plantar fasciitis then working on improving muscle control and strength is important. For this, I like the exercises I shared in the video: the toe piano/wave and the tissue scrunch.
These exercises work on fine motor control and improving the quality of the arches in the foot. While they may not seem like much, when you’re on the road to recovery less is more. These small exercises can be enough to exhaust the muscles in the foot easily if they aren’t used to working effectively.
Find the cause!
Lastly, and probably most importantly, find the root cause of the inflammation! The pain is there for a reason. Personally, my issues were caused by my shoes. Once I was fitted for shoes and orthotics my pain relief for plantar fasciitis was immense. I was walking on clouds! Since then, I have only run in Brooks Running Shoes. Expensive, but pain free! So, are you wearing the correct shoes for the activity performed? Do you have adequate support for YOUR feet? This means NO flip-flops for hiking! If you are running how old are your shoes? Have you been correctly fitted? Do you need orthotics? Other issues could be your shoes have too high a heel drop and causing tight calves. Shoes don’t have to be stiletto’s to be causing this issue either! Do you have poor ankle mobility or tight calves? Discover if there is a movement pattern or lifestyle behavior causing it. Address the root cause or you’re just putting a band-aid on a bullet wound.
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- Have you sufferend with Plantar Fasciitis?
- If yes what did you find helped? And did you find the cause?
- When was the last time you bought new workout shoes?