Many of us occasionally wake up on the wrong side of the bed for one reason or another. It’s just a fact of life. But if you find yourself constantly waking up grumpy due to morning heel pain, you don’t need to grin and bear it. That’s because if the cause of your bad mornings is plantar fasciitis pain, it might be able to be relieved. And one remedy that can possibly mitigate some discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis can be performed by spending a few minutes a day to stretch.
But first, let’s get to a possible source of that sharp, stabbing ache. According to Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The condition is caused by inflammation of a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of each foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. Inflammation is common in this area because the plantar fascia is stretched infrequently, which can lead to tautness — and therefore small tears — in the tissue.
Plantar fasciitis is marked by a stabbing pain that occurs when you take your first steps in the morning. The pain might decrease throughout the day but can possibly return after long periods of standing or when standing after sitting for a while.
Though you can visit a doctor for plantar fasciitis, the condition can sometimes be treated with at-home stretches and mild over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium that can possibly ease discomfort and address inflammation.
Plantar fasciitis stretches might help loosen your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles, possibly helping to make the ligament stronger and more flexible. If done correctly and consistently, you’ll find plantar fasciitis stretches might help heal plantar fasciitis quickly and effectively.
If you’re in the market for the best exercise for plantar fasciitis, check out these plantar fasciitis, stretches that might help you wake up on the right side of the bed. Please note that the subjects explored in this story are not intended as medical advice or guidance. Always seek information from health care professionals for the best way to address issues associated with your health.
Stretches to treat plantar fasciitis
There are many physical therapy exercises for plantar fasciitis that might help provide much-needed heel pain relief. According to the experts at the University of Michigan, plantar fascia stretches are best performed in the morning to address the issue when it’s at its worst. Test out a few of the options below and see which works best for your particular needs. You don’t need to do them all to see results — just stick with one or two that really make your feet feel better.
It’s important to remember that these exercises might be able to provide pain relief for plantar fasciitis. They shouldn’t cause you more pain. If you find your condition gets worse or doesn’t improve from these exercises after around two weeks, you should see a doctor for further evaluation. Especially severe cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated with surgical and medical intervention, though it’s not commonly needed.
Roll out your foot arch
For those experiencing plantar fascia, rolling out the foot arch is one of the best ways to possibly feel some relief. While seated, some health care professionals recommend that you roll the arch of your foot back and forth over a cylindrical object like a frozen water bottle, a cold soda can, or a foam roller. Do this for about a minute on both feet. If you’d like, you can use a tennis ball or a golf ball instead. Though, there are some advantages to braving the cold.
“[Rolling out your arch with a frozen bottle] not only helps massage the sore area but also reduce inflammation due to the cold temperature of the bottle,” Dr. Alan Bass, a board-certified podiatrist and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association, told Footwear News in 2019. Of course, the best shoes for plantar fasciitis should be in your arsenal, too.
Stretch your foot arch
To stretch your plantar fascia and help treat your heel pain, the experts at Mayo Clinic recommend a simple stretch: Cross one leg over the other, grab your toes, and pull them gently toward you until you feel a stretch. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, relax, then repeat two more times, it’s suggested. Then, do the same with the opposite foot. This is one of the easiest plantar fasciitis stretch to perform before getting out of bed, helping you literally start your day on the right foot.
If you’d like another option for a foot exercise, some professionals recommend that you fold a towel lengthwise and place the folded towel under the arch of one foot while seated. Holding the ends of the towel with both hands, gently pull the ends toward you. Hold that position for about 30 seconds and repeat three times on each foot.
Flex your foot to strengthen
Flexing your feet can be game-changing in strengthening your plantar fascia. To do it the right way, the experts at Washington University Orthopedics recommend placing a small towel on the floor, placing your foot on top, and curling your toes to grip the towel. Then, move the towel toward you. Repeat the exercise 10 times one to two times a day to help the condition.
The University of Michigan recommends another variation on this plantar fascia strengthening exercise that is more like a game. Place a few marbles on the ground next to a cup, then pick up the marbles with your toes, and deposit them into a cup to help strengthen your foot. Talk about a challenge.
Flexing your foot to help stretch your plantar fascia can also be practical when you are out and about in the world, University of Michigan claims. If you find yourself sitting for a long time, simply flex your arch slowly back and forth about 10 times before standing to help mitigate any possible discomfort.
Perform calf stretches daily
According to experts, stretching your calves is actually a good way to address plantar fasciitis, even though the area you are working is seemingly unrelated to your foot pain.
“While the plantar fascia mainly attaches at the bottom of the heel, some of the fibers run along the bottom and back towards the Achilles tendon,” Dr. Bass told Footwear News in 2019. “Stretching the Achilles tendon will allow the muscle to loosen and thus reduce tension on the plantar fascia.”
And a good way to stretch the Achilles tendon is through calf stretches. To perform a good (and safe) calf stretch, stand an arm’s length from a wall and place your right foot behind your left, Healthline explains. Slowly bend your left knee while keeping your right knee straight and both heels on the floor. Lunge forward until you feel a stretch and hold the position for about 30 seconds. Release and repeat three times before repeating the reps with the other leg. If your plantar fascia pain diminishes, you can deepen this stretch by performing it with both legs slightly bent, according to the report.
Another calf stretch for addressing plantar fasciitis that’s recommended by Washington University Orthopedics includes placing one foot securely on a step while putting the ball of the other foot on the edge of that same step. Gently lower the heel hanging off the step until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 45 seconds and do two to three reps several times a day.
Massage your plantar fascia
Massaging the bottom of your foot across the width of the plantar fascia before getting out of bed can possibly help address morning discomfort caused by plantar fasciitis, University of Michigan reported. If you choose this method to treat your pain, you should still perform stretches daily, as more intense exercises better lengthen the plantar fascia than just mere massage, the research recommended. But this treatment is good for those who are in a rush—or who already lotion their feet and can add it to the routine.
Stretch your arch with night splints
If you have plantar fasciitis, you possibly experience pain right after you get out of bed in the morning. That’s because while you sleep, the feet relax and point down in a contracted position, causing the plantar fascia to tighten up, research has shown. Some ways to possibly help heal the condition include stretching your feet while you sleep with night splints that hold the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position overnight. This heel pain treatment can help address the issue, but should also be accompanied by other exercises and plantar fasciitis stretches during waking hours.
Some possible symptoms of plantar fasciitis
• Sharp and stitching pains in the heel when standing after several hours of rest.
• Pain after using stairs or standing in one place for a long period.
• Pain that is more intense or occurs in one leg.
Who is at risk of developing plantar fasciitis?
• Overweight or obese individuals.
• Pregnant women.
• People wearing improper footwear.
• Middle-aged individuals.
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