One Stretch and One Exercise to Help Plantar Faciitis

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Plantar faciitis, or “Policeman’s Heel” as it is often known, is particularly painful and debilitating. It effects up to 7% of the population. Plantar fasciitis causes pain on the sole of the foot just in front of the heel where the plantar fascia, a tight band of fibrous tissue, inserts. Two measures that can really help the symptoms are high- load strength training and stretching of the plantar fascia. It is important to continue to do the following exercises even after the pain has improved. Don’t worry if you experience some mild discomfort during the exercises but stop if they are painful. A gel heel insert can also be helpful by reducing the tension on the plantar fascia.

Exercise 1: Plantar Fascia Stretching 1. Cross the affected leg over the other leg so that the affected foot is resting on the opposite thigh. 2. Place your fingers across the base of the toes on the bottom of the affected foot pull the toes back toward the shin until you feel a stretch in the arch of the foot. 3. Feel along the sole of your foot. You should be able to feel that there is tension in your plantar fascia. 4. Perform the stretch 10 times, for 10 seconds, three times per day.

Exercise 2: High Load Strength Training (Heel Drops) 1. Fold a towel on a step so that the edge of the towel lines up with the edge of the step. This will ensure that the toes are maximally stretched back when you perform the exercise. 2. Hold on to the banister and stand on the towel so that only your toes are on the towel. Perform a heel raise by pushing your heels up and away from the ground onto your tiptoes. Go up over three seconds, pause at the top and lift your good foot off the towel so that you lower all the way back down using only your affected leg until your heel drop down past the edge of the step. 3. Perform 3 sets of a maximum of 12 repetitions. 4. After two weeks, increase the load by using a back pack with books in it and reduce the number of repetitions to 10, simultaneously increasing the number of sets to four. 5. After four weeks, perform 8 repetitions and perform five sets. 6. Keep adding books to the backpack as you become stronger. 7. Perform the exercises every second day for three months.

What You'll Need

  • A towel
  • A step with something to hold on to

What You'll Do

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