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Exercises to Relieve Pain From Plantar Fasciitis

Last updated: May 25, 2022

Plantar fasciitis affects millions of people around the world every year, and it's not just long-distance runners who suffer from this potentially debilitating condition. People who are overweight may develop the condition more often than normal-weight people.

Unfortunately, doctors aren't absolutely sure why some people develop this inflammatory condition; however, exercises do exist to relieve the pain associated with it. 

Plantar Fasciitis is a Common Cause of Heel Pain

What is plantar fasciitis? It's an inflammatory problem that involves a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottoms of your feet. This band connects the heel bone to the toes, which are known as the plantar fascia, and gives the condition its name.

The Mayo Clinic shares:

"Plantar fasciitis commonly causes stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. As you get up and move, the pain normally decreases, but it might return after long periods of standing or when you stand up after sitting."

The pain from plantar fasciitis may also flare up after long periods spent standing or after you get up from sitting and start walking around. Doctors believe that stressing the fascia may cause small tears in the tissue and that repeatedly tearing or stressing the fascia can cause it. However, doctors aren't entirely sure of the cause.

Your Age and Activities May Increase Your Risk

Plantar fasciitis isn't solely a problem for long-distance runners and overweight people, but it's certainly more common in those individuals. Here are some of the risk factors that may make you vulnerable to developing plantar fasciitis.

Age:

Plantar fasciitis usually occurs in people aged 40 to 60, but others may develop the condition, too. For example, a long-distance runner who is also overweight but only age 30 could develop the problem.

Exercise:

If you engage in long-distance running or certain types of dancing like aerobics or ballet, you could eventually develop plantar fasciitis.

However, note that some exercises may actually relieve the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, so it's not just a blanket idea that "exercise causes plantar fasciitis." Some exercises will help you deal with it.

Extra Weight:

A few extra pounds probably won't cause you to develop plantar fasciitis, but obesity can push you closer into the danger zone for developing it due to added stress on your feet.

Foot Shape:

Anything that takes your foot out of the average can increase your risk. People with high arches as well as flat feet can develop the condition despite having completely opposite foot mechanics.

Work:

Anyone who stands on their feet for many hours each day can develop the condition. Teachers who stand all day at the blackboard or whiteboard, for example, are prime candidates.

Exercises Can Help Relieve the Pain of Plantar Fasciitis

There's no magic pill to get rid of plantar fasciitis, but exercises may help relieve the pain. Some people who suffer from the condition also use ice packs on their feet, wear toe separators, use sock splints at night, and put orthotics in their shoes for walking.

Here are some exercises that may help you deal with the pain and reduce the severity of the condition. There's no guarantee that you'll cure your plantar fasciitis, but these exercises can, at the very least, help.

Perform Capsulitis Foot Exercises

Capsulitis is a condition that results from stressing the soft tissue below the second toe joint on the ball of your foot. If you wear poorly fitted shoes or engage in a lot of exercises, you may develop the problem. Marathon runners are particularly vulnerable. Capsulitis is also known as plantar fasciosis.

There are foot exercises meant for capsulitis that may help your plantar fasciitis.

Find a nearby wall and place your toes against it with your heel positioned on the ground. Lean forward gently and feel the stretch in your calves and down to the ball of your foot. Stretch each foot for about 30 seconds at a time

Single Leg Balances & Stretches

Healing the pain of plantar fasciitis is all about stretching, and cone exercises may help. You'll want to have about four small cones on hand or any small target you can place on the floor. Create a semi-circle with the cones on the ground on one side of your body. 

Try to point at the targets with a foot without letting that foot touch the ground. The exercises will stretch your feet and force you to create an arch with your foot as you point. As you point with one foot, press the toes of your other foot into the floor as you complete the pointing exercise. Try the exercise with both legs if you have pain in both feet.

Foot & Leg Stretching Exercises

Stretching is an important part of relieving the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Everything from squats to saddlebag exercises to calf stretches to supine leg stretches are great for strengthening your legs and keeping your feet relaxed and limber when you walk, work, and exercise.

Using a Tennis Ball to Relieve Pain

Plantar fasciitis is painful, but it doesn't need to be expensive. You can use something as simple and inexpensive as a tennis ball to help stretch your foot. Before you head out to buy specialized foot massage equipment, find a tennis ball and take a seat in a chair. You can complete plantar fasciitis exercises tennis ball almost anywhere.

Place the tennis ball on the floor and put your foot over it with the arch of your foot directly over the tennis ball. Move your foot forward and backward while keeping pressure on the tennis ball. You can perform this exercise with each affected foot two or three times a day.tennis ball

Use a Plant-Based Diet to Reduce Inflammation

A study published in 2008 in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research called "Anti-inflammatory effects of plant-based foods and of their constituents" suggests that inflammation is an underlying cause of many different diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition, so it stands to reason that consuming a diet that helps reduce inflammation may help treat or prevent the condition. The data gathered in the study suggests that diet can strongly affect inflammation. Eating fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat are "inversely associated" with inflammation.

Further, an article published by the Cleveland Clinic suggests that red and processed meats are high in saturated fat and cause inflammation. Examples of processed meats include bacon, hot dogs, salami, and sausage. 

Since meat consumption can cause inflammation and plants can reduce inflammation, adopting a vegan or plant-based diet may help reduce inflammation and thereby reduce plantar fasciitis pain.


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