Plantar Fasciitis Exercises and Stretches: The Definitive Guide

Do you suffer from plantar fasciitis or heel pain? If so, there is a good chance that you wake up in the morning in agony. Unfortunately, plantar fasciitis is a common problem that is not easily rectifiable. The problem is the fact that each patient is unique. Some individuals will benefit from medications, while others will prefer home remedies. Certain plantar fasciitis exercises and stretches can prove to be enormously beneficial. Sadly, many of these activities can be difficult to pull off, since you’re already in significant pain.

The good news is that some exercises can be very beneficial and low impact. This means that they’ll work for everyone, including those suffering from intense pain and tight feet. Below, you’ll learn about the most practical exercises and stretches for alleviating your plantar fasciitis.

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Morning Exercises To Improve Flexibility And Prevent Injury

Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning with extreme heel pain. Sometimes the pain may be so severe you do not even want to move. However, with a few exercises and a little bit of knowledge, you can completely overcome your pain and gain the strength you need to push your body out of bed. Keep in mind that these exercises can be performed, while you are still sitting in your bed, before you even take your first step.

1. The Warm-Up Exercise

To begin the first exercise, you want to sit up straight with your legs stretched out in front of you. Once in this position, you want to point your toes away from your body as far as you can and then bring them back towards your body.

This exercise basically gets the muscles and ligaments in your toes and feet warmed up. So, you can easily complete your full exercise regimen, without worrying about further damaging or injuring your feet.

Frequency Recommendations

You want to repeat this exercise up to 10 times with both feet to ensure they are warmed up and ready for the next task. This is a great exercise for runners, walkers and joggers who have a history of plantar fasciitis.

2. Quick Stretch Exercise

The second exercise is going to require a knee-hi sock, sheet or pillowcase, which you should already have accessible. You want to begin this exercise by sitting in the upright position with your feet out in front of you. After you are seated in this position, grab the sock, making sure that each hand is located at the ends. Now, wrap the sock around the ball of your foot. Make sure you maintain the sitting position throughout this exercise and use your arm strength to pull your foot to an elevated position, without any assistance from your lower body.

Once in the elevated position, you want to hold there for 5 to 10 seconds. The key is to make sure that the sock is wrapped around the ball of the foot and not just the toes.

How The Exercise Helps

The quick stretch exercise basically puts a little bit of pressure on the plantar fascia ligament during the stretching action. This ensures that the ligaments are loose, which gives the foot more flexibility without experiencing pain. It will also warm up the plantar fascia ligament as part of preparing for a full exercise regimen.

Frequency Recommendations

In order to get the most out of this exercise, you want to make sure that you are performing in one to two times with each foot. Just remember that this is only an exercise to prepare your feet for a full exercise regimen.

3. Massage Therapy

After the feet are warmed up, you want to continue forward by massaging the plantar fascia ligament. Make sure that you start at the inner side of the arch of one of the feet. Work your way to the outside of the arch on the other side, by moving along the width of the foot, while applying just a little bit of pressure with your hands.

How It Helps

This massaging technique helps ensure that your plantar ligament is ready to handle the pressure of your body, when you take that first step in the morning. During the night, while you sleep your ligaments tighten up, which is why those first few steps in the morning are so painful.

Frequency Recommendations

This exercise should be performed five to 10 times on each foot. Once you have completed the entire regimen, you should be able to get out of bed without experiencing any pain. You can also rest assured that you will not further damage the plantar ligaments.

Additiontional tips

Plantar Fasciitis Stretches To Perform Daily

By stretching your calf muscles and plantar fascia ligaments several times a day, you will be able to avoid potential tears in these key components of the lower body. These exercises will improve your flexibility, while reducing your pain level. If you do these as recommended by medical professionals, you will be able to live a healthy, pain-free lifestyle, without plantar fasciitis symptoms.

1. Toe Stretches

The toe stretch is idealistic for everyone suffering from heel pain. This stretch requires very little effort and you’ll never have to worry about injuring yourself. Simultaneously, you can perform this exercise from anywhere. Most importantly, it also works exceptionally well for stretching the tendons in the foot and this can help to relieve the pain.

How It Works

Performing the toe stretch is very simplistic. Just position yourself in a chair and extend your leg outward. With your foot planted firmly on the ground, you’ll want to reach down with your hand and grab the big toe. Now, pull the toe towards your body. Pull back until you feel the muscles and tendons in your feet stretching. Do not use excessive force. Hold the position for a good fifteen to thirty seconds.

Why It Works

The toe stretch is fairly straightforward. When pulling on the big toe, the muscles and tendons in the bottom of the foot are stretched and pulled. This helps to loosen up the stiffness in the foot that is commonly linked to plantar fasciitis. In return, this can make it far easier to walk around, while also diminishing the pain to some degree.

Recommended Frequency

Since the toe stretch is fairly low impact, it can be performed repeatedly throughout the day. In general, the aforementioned instructions should be repeated at least two to four times each session. Then, you can perform toe stretch sessions several times each day. Just remember to be cautious. If you experience any pain or the problem worsens, you should stop right away.

2. Towel Stretch

The towel stretch is another great exercise that can help to relieve the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. It may also be able to help reduce heel pain. The good news is that pretty much anyone can perform the towel stretch, since it is simplistic, low impact, and everyone has access to a towel. When you’re ready to begin, grab a towel and proceed to the section below.

How It Works

The towel stretch exercise is very basic and only requires a towel. You can perform the exercise anywhere, but it is a good ideal to position yourself on a comfortable surface. Sit on the ground with your legs positioned straight in front of your body. Your back should be inclined at a 90-degree angle. Now, position the middle of the towel around the ball of the foot. Each hand should grip onto a separate end of the towel.

While keeping the knee as straight as possible, slowly pull the towel towards your body. Do so until you experience a tug on the foot’s tendons. Hold this position for at least fifteen seconds and to a maximum of thirty seconds.

Why It Works

The towel stretch is widely considered to be one of the very best exercises for relieving plantar fasciitis pain. It is very effective and low impact. The exercise works, because it stretches the plantar fascia, which is usually the root cause of plantar fasciitis. By stretching this ligament, you’ll be able to increase the flexibility of your foot and also diminish some of the pain.

Recommended Frequency

Since the towel stretch targets the entire foot, it should not be performed as frequently as the toe stretch. The aforementioned instructions should be repeated two to four times during a single session. However, it is generally a good idea to avoid performing the towel stretch more than once or twice a day. Experiment with the exercise, until you familiarize yourself with your threshold. Again, make sure that you stop performing this exercise, if you begin to experience more intense pain.

3. Calf Stretch

The calf stretch does not solely target the foot, but it can prove to be enormously beneficial for those suffering from plantar fasciitis. The exercise actually stretches the muscles in the back of the leg and certain portions of the foot. The exercise can definitely help to reduce the symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis. It is possible to tweak the exercise slightly to put more emphasis on the plantar fascia. Follow the advice below when you’re ready to begin.

How It Works

When you’re ready to begin, you need to find a solid surface, such as a wall. Face the wall and position yourself upright. Straighten out your arms and position the palms of your hands directly up against the wall. Straighten one leg outward, while keeping the other one with a bent knee in front of you. You should be able to feel the muscles in the back of the leg stretching. You can also lift the heel of the back foot of the ground slightly to put more pressure on the bottom of the foot.

Hold this position for at least fifteen seconds, but no more than thirty seconds.

Why It Works

The calf stretch works for an abundance of reasons. For starters, it helps to limber up the leg and the foot. It can also help to stretch the leg muscles and the foot ligaments simultaneously. In return, this combination can help to relieve pain, while reducing the stiffness in the foot. And course, this will give you more mobility.

Recommended Frequency

Since the calf stretch targets the entire leg and the foot, it can be performed several times throughout the day. It also has far less impact on the foot. First, you should perform the instructions above two to four times for each session. During each session, the instructions should be repeated two to four times. It is possible to perform sessions a maximum of four times each day. In general, it is best to avoid performing this stretch more than five days a week. Make sure you speak with a doctor, if you being to experience more stiffness or more pain.

4. Resistance Band Stretch

An amazing exercise that targets the plantar fascia ligament is the resistance band stretch. Physical therapists utilize what is known as a resistance band to help their patients improve their range of motion and strengthen their muscles. This band is backed with proven facts that show it truly works.

How It Works

To perform the resistance band stretch, you will need to sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Simply wrap the center of the band underneath the ball of your foot, grab each end of the band and gently pull toward your upper body. It is important to note that the leg needs to remain completely stretched out, in order to receive the maximum benefits of the exercise.

Once you pull the band toward your upper body, you should continue to hold that stance for at least 30 seconds. Now, if your plantar fascia ligament is tight or sore, you may meet with some resistance. Do not go beyond the point, where you could actually cause more damage than good. Your pain level will kind of give you an idea of how far to pull back on the band.

Why It Works

The resistance band exercise works because it stretches the plantar fascia ligament. It is also a very simple exercise that can be utilized by adults and seniors, because it does not require any strenuous maneuvers. As a beginner, you may find it difficult to deal with the soreness and pain caused by stretching an inflamed or torn plantar fascia ligament. However, over time it will become easier and those symptoms will subside.

Recommended Frequency

As mentioned above, you should hold the stance for up to 30 seconds during each exercise. Once you complete the stretch, you will repeat the same steps with the opposite foot. Most medical professionals recommend repeating the resistance band stretch with each foot two to four times. Again, in the beginning you may meet with some resistance, so do not overdo it and put your body at risk of being injured.

5. Plantar Fascia And Calf Stretch

The plantar fascia and calf stretch targets the plantar fascia ligament and the calf muscle. This is a simple exercise that works great. However, it can be a little difficult for older adults to assume and maintain the position required to perform the stretch properly.

How It Works

For this exercise, you can either utilize a step, wooden box or 24 pack of soda. The key is to utilize a solid platform that is raised off the ground, so you can target the calf muscle and plantar fascia ligament more effectively. When assuming the position you may have some difficulty, since it requires only placing half of the front part of the foot on the platform. The rest of the foot will hang off the edge. If you have poor balance or gait, you may not be able to accomplish this particular stance. However, you can utilize the railing to help balance your body to prevent a fall.

Place the front part of your foot on the platform, leaving the arch and heel hanging off the edge. With the front part of your foot push your body upwards, hold that stance for 15 to 30 seconds and return to the starting position. It is highly recommended to repeat the exercise two to four times, but again avoid overdoing it to prevent injury.

Why It Works

The plantar fascia and calf stretch works very effectively by targeting the calf muscles and plantar fascia ligament. The stretching action will increase the flexibility of the muscles and ligaments, which in turn will reduce heel pain.

Recommended Frequency

Physical therapists and other medical professional recommend performing this exercise before and after activity and several times a day. If you are a beginner, you should only perform this exercise once or twice a day with only a few repetitions. If you struggle with poor balance and gait, you should only do this exercise on a step with a railing or with assistance.

Strengthen Your Foot To Prevent Future Plantar Fasciitis

Once you’ve managed to alleviate your symptoms and heel pain, you’ll want to do your best to ensure that it never returns. This is why it is absolutely pertinent to strengthen the muscles and tendons associated with the feet. The good news is that there is an abundance of excellent exercises that can help to strengthen this portion of the body. For your convenience, two of the most effective exercises will be explored in greater depth below.

1. Towel Curls

The towel curl exercise is very straight forward and it works great for strengthening the foot. Plus, you’ll need very little to pull it off. When performing this exercise, you will use your foot like a hand to lift an object off of the ground. Using a towel generally works best. Since most people have access to a towel or two, this exercise is suitable for all people suffering from heel pain. When you’re ready to begin, grab a towel and move to the section below.

How It Works

Don’t worry. The towel curl is very easy to perform. Position yourself on a chair with a towel directly in front of you on the floor. Position your foot directly above the towel. Make sure that the foot touches the towel, but does not pin it to the floor. The ideal is to ensure that the towel can still move around freely. Now, you’ll want to use your toes to squeeze the towel. Crunch your foot to make this happen. Now, push the toes outward, until the towel is straightened again.

You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by placing a moderately heavy object on the opposite end of the towel. A soup can or heavy book will do the trick. It is generally best to consult with your physical therapist, if you need additional instructions or advice.

Why It Works

Truly, the towel curl exercise is one of the most effective for strengthening the muscles in the foot. This is the case, because you’ll use all of these muscles when attempting to move the towel back and forth. As you perform the exercise with repetition, your foot muscles will grow stronger and the foot will also become much more limber. This can make the foot less susceptible to plantar fasciitis, while keeping your mobility at the maximum level.

Recommended Frequency

The towel curl exercise can be altered to increase its difficulty. Simultaneously, you have complete control over the numbers of reps that you prefer to perform at any given time. For maximum impact, you should perform the towel curl exercise, until you’ve hit your threshold. Do not push yourself too hard or you may experience adverse side effects. In general, it is best to perform this exercise once a day and at least four or five times a week. Just remember to stop, if you experience any adverse effects or pain.

2. The Marble Pickup

The marble pickup can be a fun way to strengthen your feet muscles. It is somewhat similar to the towel crunch, but it will require a little more effort from your legs. In order to perform this exercise, you will need several marbles and a cup. When you’re ready to begin, you should place all objects on the floor and proceed to the section below.

How It Works

The marble pickup isn’t too difficult to figure out. Place the cup on the ground. The marbles should be placed nearby, but outside of the cup. Now, you can perform the exercise while sitting or standing. Use your toes to grip ahold of the marble. While keeping a grip on the marble, you should lift your foot and drop the marble into the cup. Repeat the exercise until each and every marble is inside of the cup.

Why It Works

This specific exercise is undeniably great for strengthening the foot’s muscles. This will help to strengthen the muscles, while also increasing the flexibility and mobility of your foot in general. The exercise can also be a good way to improve eye and foot coordination.

Recommended Frequency

Since the marble pickup exercise is so incredibly fun, you’ll likely want to perform it as much as possible. This is fine, but you should be cautious of overdoing it. Perform the exercise at least once or twice a day, but always remain aware of your threshold. When the foot feels worn out and tired, you should stop. Also, remember that you’re going to need to use your feet for the rest of the day. Therefore, you should stop when your feet feel like they need a rest.

Finally, consult with a doctor if you begin to experience stiffness or pain.


When it comes down to it, there are numerous stretches and exercises that can help to alleviate heel pain and stave off plantar fasciitis. The aforementioned exercises will work exceptionally well. Just remember to get to know your threshold better, so you do not overdo it and wind up injured.


  1. Wikipedia, Plantar fasciitis, Online Crowdsourced Information.
  2. WebMD, Plantar Fasciitis: Exercises to Relieve Pain, Online Clinical Information.
  3. Pinterest, Plantar Fasciitis Exercises, Online Media Network.
Sariel Mazuz

My name is Sariel and I’m on a mission to give you simplified and actionable foot health advice, running tips and footwear reviews. My wonderful team and I work hard to provide you the most actionable and up-to-date information.I wish you all the best on your health journey!

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