Physical Therapy Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain and can cause pain at the bottom of the foot while walking. Approximately 2 million Americans are treated for plantar fasciitis every year. It is particularly common injury for runners and people who stand for long periods of time.

Fortunately, plantar fasciitis can be treated by physical therapy treatment, including icing, manual manipulation, and stretching.

The Cleveland Clinic also suggests other treatments such as:

  • Heel gel pads
  • Orthotic arch support
  • Night splints
  • Walking cast

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “more than 90% of patients with plantar fasciitis will improve within 10 months of starting simple treatment methods.” Recovery from plantar fasciitis is not a quick process and often includes activity modification or rest to reduce the activities that make the pain worse.

The AAOS recommends doing calf stretches and the plantar facia stretch:

  • Soleus Stretching – Stand in front of a wall with feet staggered, one in front of the other. Lean towards the wall, bend back knee but keep back leg’s heel to the floor. Feel gentle stretch in back calf and Achilles area. Make sure back foot is facing straight ahead, not turned out.
  • Standing Gastroc Stretch – Stand in front of a wall with one foot in front of the other, keep the back leg straight. Lean towards wall while keeping back heel down, feel gentle stretch in calf of back leg. Make sure back foot is facing straight ahead, not turned out.
  • Plantar Fascia Stretch – While seated, cross your foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the toes of your foot and slowly pull them toward your shin in a controlled fashion. Place your other hand along the plantar fascia. The fascia should feel like a tight band along the bottom of your foot when stretched. Hold. Slowly return your toes to their starting position. Repeat. 

Athletico Physical Therapy recommends additional exercises for plantar fasciitis.

  • Towel Calf Stretch – Sit with knee straight and towel looped around the ball of one foot. Gently pull on the towel until a stretch is felt in the calf. You can also sit in a chair with leg straight, heel on the ground
  • Tennis Ball Exercise 1 & 2 – While sitting, place a tennis ball under your foot. GENTLY press into tennis ball then move your foot forwards and backwards so that the ball moves down the middle of your foot from heel to toe. Then roll the ball side to side under the ball of your foot. May be tender but should not cause pain

You can find the above exercises in the Ankle and Foot category in the PT-Helper mobile app to add to your Favorites which allows you to customize each exercise’s repetitions, sets, and hold time.

Reminder: Please consult your physician before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.

Start your Free 30-day Trial of the PT-Helper CONNECT tool for physical therapists and other therapy providers, so you too may create and prescribe Home Exercise Programs like the one shown above.

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