Best Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

Plantar Fasciitis Exercises To Soothe Heel Pain

As soon as the pain from Plantar Fasciitis hits you, the first thing on your mind is how to soothe it. There is nothing worse than trying to function with excruciating heel and foot pain. Plantar fasciitis exercises might be what you’re looking for.

There are many exercises that are simple and can be done at home without any special equipment to help this pain go away. There are other treatment options for plantar fasciitis. Try them out if exercises don’t offer you relief.

What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar Fasciitis comes from inflammation and micro tears in your plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is the tissue that runs along the underside of your feet and connects your heel to your toes.

The point where it connects to the heel is the smallest point, which is why you experience pain in the heel area. This area is also more prone to tearing and overstretching if your feet do not have enough support.

Plantar Fasciitis is a common injury among runners because of the extra strain placed on the plantar fascia. Micro tears form and if they do not heal properly, they will cause pain and you will have issues walking.

The pain is normally a stabbing feeling in the heel area and can be worse in the morning when you first place your feet on the floor. Another reason you experience Plantar Fasciitis is because of the windlass mechanism.

This mechanism naturally occurs when your foot is shaped like a bow and happens when you are in the middle of your gait cycle. It is designed to absorb the everyday shock your feet experience. If the windlass mechanism is not properly supported or too much tension is placed on it, micro tears occur in the plantar fascia causing pain and inflammation. Two ways to curb this pain are gently stretching the plantar fascia and strengthening your feet.

Types of Plantar Fasciitis Exercises

One thing that aggravates Plantar Fasciitis is tight muscles in your calves and feet. Since your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia work together as you walk, these should stay look to allow some stretching when you move.

By stretching on a regular basis, you will keep your ligaments loose and will experience less Plantar Fasciitis pain overall. This is because the micro tears will be kept from forming, inflammation will be cut down, and the overall health of your calves and feet will improve.

Seated Exercises

Seated exercises may be a good place to start if you do not want to stand because of pain. They will loosen up the ligaments so it will be more comfortable to stand once you get to the other exercises.

1. Using a Ball or Frozen Water Bottle

tennis ball for plantar fasciitis

The first exercise to soothe your Plantar Fasciitis pain involves using a cold soda can, a frozen water bottle, or a tennis ball. Place the item underneath your foot and roll it back and forth, from the ball of your foot to your heel. This should be done for one minute and then switch to the other foot.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

This exercise is effective for Plantar Fasciitis because the item placed under your foot works directly on your plantar fascia. When it is rolled, the item gently stretches the ligament out so it is more pliable when you move. This will help with the windlass mechanism, so you do not experience micro tears or overstretch ligaments when you run or walk.

2. Plantar Fascia Stretches

Plantar Fascia Stretches

The second exercise involves crossing one leg over the other so you can reach your toes. Reach for your big toe, grab it, and gently pull it towards you. Hold it in this position for 15 to 30 seconds, as long as it feels comfortable. Gently release the stretch, wait a few seconds, and then start the stretch again. Do this for a total of three times and then switch to the other foot.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

As soon as you grab your toe, the plantar fascia is pulled into a gentle stretch. Do not pull too hard to make it uncomfortable or you actually do more damage. Stop and hold the position once you feel a good, comfortable stretch. This will loosen the ligaments, so the next time you walk they will be more flexible and less prone to micro-tears.

3. Towel Stretch

towel stretch

The third exercise involves using a towel to aid in stretching. If you have an exercise strap, that will work as well. While sitting on the floor, put the towel underneath the arches of each foot at the same time.

With the ends of the towel in your hands, pull the towel towards you, which will pull the tops of your feet toward you. You should feel a gentle stretch and hold it in that position for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly release the stretch and repeat for a total of three times on each foot.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

The towel or exercise band allows you to put light pressure on the plantar fascia while stretching it. The stretch loosens up the plantar fascia so the ligaments in your feet will be more flexible, which prevents micro tears from occurring.

Standing Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Once your feet feel good and stretched out, and the pain is reduced, it is time to stand up and loosen up your calves. Since your legs, ankles, and feet all work together, it is important to stretch your lower leg muscles. The Achilles tendon works with your feet when you walk, so by loosening this up and stretching it out, you will experience less overall pain in your calves and feet.

1. Gastroc Stretch

Gastroc Stretch

Find a place in your house where you have a little bit of room and stand arm’s length from the wall. First, put your right foot behind your left foot. Bend your left leg forward slowly until you feel a stretch. During this time, your right knee should be straight and the right heel should be kept on the ground.

This will aid in the stretch. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Do not do it longer than you feel comfortable. Start out slow and over time, you can increase the length you hold the stretch. This exercise should be done three times on one leg and then switch to the other leg and repeat three times on that leg as well.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

This stretch loosens the muscle in your calf. Since your legs and feet work together, it is important to keep them flexible to prevent micro-tears in your feet. As you do this stretch more, you will notice you can do a deeper stretch that will go into your ankle and the back of your heel.

2. Soleus Stretch

This exercise is similar to the one above. Stand near a wall, keep your feet flat on the floor and extend one leg forward. Instead of keeping the back leg straight, bend your knee slightly while keeping your entire foot on the floor. Lean forward slightly until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your calf. This stretches the Achilles tendon. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and then slowly release the stretch. Repeat three times on one leg, switch legs, and then repeat three times on the other leg.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

By stretching out the Achilles tendon, your legs will be more flexible as you move. This reduces the strain on your plantar fascia, which reduces the chance of micro-tears.

3. Flexor Hallicus Longus Stretch

Flexor Hallicus Longus Stretch

The stretch can be done on a wall, stairs, or a yoga block if you have one. Put your toes against the surface so that just your toes are bent upward. Keep your heel on the floor, bend your knee, and move forward until you feel a stretch in your feet. You should feel it in the calf, ankle, and bottom of your foot.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

This stretch is one of the most effective for Plantar Fasciitis because it stretches the ligaments in the leg as well as the foot. By stretching them all together, they loosen up and work together with you when you walk. Once the plantar fascia is not so tight, micro tears will be prevented in the future so you will be more comfortable.

Strengthening Exercises 

Besides stretching, there is another exercise you can do to help strengthen the muscles in your arch. Strengthening is another important aspect that can be done to prevent Plantar Fasciitis because it gives your feet stability and support. 

Shoes and orthotic inserts can help with this, but by having a solid foundation you will prevent the windlass mechanism from stretching too much and stop micro tears before they start.

1. Arch Strengthening

towel stretching

To do this exercise, put a towel or sheet on the floor. Grab the item with your toes and move it towards you. Do this again with the other foot. Repeat for a total of three times on each foot.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

Once these muscles are strengthened, your arch will be better supported, and the ligaments surrounding it will support it while allowing for some flexibility. As your strength grows, there will be less chance of micro tears happening because you will not experience an arch collapse when you walk. The ligaments will keep the arch in place so you will experience more stability and support as these muscles grow.

2. Calf Strengthening

Calf Strengthening

Since the muscles in your legs work with your feet, it is important to strengthen them as well. Standing on both of your feet, raise up onto the balls of your feet as high as you are comfortable. Lower yourself down slowly until your heels are back on the floor. Do this again ten times. You should aim for a total of three times and 10 reps per time.

Why it is Effective for Plantar Fasciitis

Once your calf muscles are strengthened, your feet will be better supported when you walk. This will translate down into your ankles and into your arch. The support will allow you to move evenly through your gait, which will reduce the chance of micro-tears occurring.

Tips for Stretching

If you have severe inflammation in your plantar fascia, you may need to take it easy for a while and ice the area until the inflammation calms down. You can do the stretches during this time, but make sure not to overdo it so that the stretches hurt.

This can cause further tearing and inflammation in the area giving you even more pain. Another thing to remember is not to bounce. Each stretch should be a slow, fluid motion. The goal is to stretch until you feel comfortable, hold that position, then release. As you go forward with the stretches, you will notice they will go deeper and be more effective than before.

Best Stretching Devices for Plantar Fasciitis

There are also a host of products out there designed to help you stretch your feet properly if you have plantar fasciitis.

The Right Shoes Make a Big Difference Too

Plantar Fasciitis requires good support for your arch and cushioning for the balls and heels of your feet. The shoes will support the ligaments around your arch, reduce the chance of micro-tears, and make for an overall more comfortable walk or run.

Proper shoes will also help prevent ankle injuries as well as other common running injuries. Sometimes orthotic insoles may be needed as well, for extra arch support or heel support. Read our guide on planar fasciitis inserts. By finding the right combination for your feet, you will experience less pain, fewer micro tears, and overall healthier feet than ever before.

We do recommend you check out our Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis guide for tips on how to select the right shoes.

Fix Plantar Fasciitis With These Exercises


Stretching is a very important part of healing and preventing Plantar Fasciitis. As soon as you notice the pain, start these stretches so you can loosen up the area. Ice can also help reduce inflammation to make the stretches more comfortable. Ice the area beforehand if you are in an extreme amount of pain.

Once you are well stretched out, don’t forget to strengthen your muscles. Strengthening is an important part of preventing Plantar Fasciitis because it builds up the ligaments so the arch does not collapse and micro tears are prevented. If you have experienced pain in your feet for longer than three weeks, it is a good idea to see a doctor as more remedies may be needed.

For a total plantar fasciitis cure, you may need to incorporate multiple treatments such as: wearing a pair of shoes for plantar fasciitis, incorporating daily plantar fasciitis stretches, and wearing a night splint.