Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament on the bottom of your foot that connects the heel with the toes and supports the arch. Pain occurs in the arch of the foot and near the heel, and is worse in the morning until you have walked for a while.
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Plantar fasciitis is caused by tight calf muscles that attach to the Achilles tendon, repetitive impact such as running, weight gain, poorly fitted shoes or a change in the intensity or frequency of your daily activities or your workout. The usual treatment includes rest and ice during the acute phase and then stretching exercises for the bottom of your foot and your calf. Avoid exercises that make your foot hurt or that involve impact like running or jumping until the condition improves.
Stretching the Bottom of Your Foot
While the pain is more acute, stretch your foot gently. Sitting with your painful foot stretched out in front of you, wrap a towel, scarf or exercise band around the ball of your foot. Pull on it gently to stretch the plantar fascia and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Relax and then repeat the stretch three times. Stretch as far as you can without pain. Sitting in a chair, bring your injured foot as far as you can under the chair. Press the heel into the floor and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Do this several times throughout the day.
Stretching Your Calf
Stand about an arm's length away from a counter or wall. Brace your hands against the counter or wall, with the unaffected leg closer to the wall and the affected leg back. Keep both heels on the floor and bend the front knee until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf on the affected leg. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat three times.
Stretching the Calf and Foot Together
Stand with the balls of your feet on a stair, holding on to the stair railing with your hands. Drop your heels below the level of the stair until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your feet and back of your legs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat three times. Avoid bouncing, as static stretching produces better results.
Sitting in a chair, roll the arch of your foot back and forth over a tennis ball. If your foot is very sore, use a frozen can of juice -- in a plastic bag -- or a cold bottle of water. Fill a basin with marbles or small round stones to a depth of about an inch. Put in enough cold water to cover your feet. Sitting in a chair, put your sore foot into the cold water and roll your arch around over the marbles. Pick up marbles with your toes to exercise muscles on the bottom or your feet. Roll the edges of your feet around in the marbles.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
- McKesson Health Solutions; Plantar Fasciitis Rehabilitation Exercises; Tammy White
- "The 5-Minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution"; Jim Johnson; 2008
- "Injury Afoot: 30 Things You Can Do to Relieve Heel Pain"; Patrick Hafner; 2008