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If You Have Heel or Foot Arch Pain, These 7 Stretches Are For You


Struggling with heel or foot arch pain? You’re likely dealing with plantar fasciitis (plan-tur-fash-ee-eye-tis), a common foot injury, and fairly easy to fix if you act early.

Signs of plantar fasciitis include:

Pain or swelling around your heel

Pain in the arch of your foot

Overall stiffness

The sooner you start treating plantar fasciitis, the better! The longer you wait, the worse it typically gets and the longer it will take to heal.

Regular and consistent stretching will be key for any plantar fasciitis treatment plan, and some simple plantar fasciitis stretches and strengthening exercises can help reduce pain. It is best to do each exercise daily, but several times a day is fine too!

The following are the best stretches and massages for relieving plantar fasciitis symptoms that you can do first thing in the morning (or anytime, really). Make sure you do these for both of your feet, even if you only have pain on one side.

1. Hand Stretch & Massage

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

Before you get out of bed in the morning, try this simple massage:

Use your hands to gently pull the top of your foot down, stretching it very lightly.

Take your thumbs and, starting in the middle of your foot, pull each thumb toward the outer edges of the foot, almost like you are trying to get rid of a wrinkle.

Do this in 3 or 4 different places at the bottom of your foot.

2. Alphabet Game

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

Next, try the alphabet game:

Sit up in bed and hang your legs over the side to play the alphabet game with your foot.

Point your big toe and draw the alphabet from A to Z with each foot to strengthen and stretch the foot and calf.

3. Roll It Out

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

After the alphabet game, give this stretch a try:

Slowly stand up and place one foot on a massage ball, tennis ball, or frozen water bottle and slowly roll it across the bottom of the foot, starting at the heel.

Once you reach your toes, go back slowly in the other direction.

Repeat 3 times for each foot.

Choosing a frozen water bottle gives you the bonus of reducing inflammation, while the rolling massage helps you get prepared to step and move.

4. Step Stretch

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

If you have access to stairs, try this stretch:

Find the nearest set of stairs and stand on the bottom step.

Put the ball of the foot you want to stretch on the step and let the heel drop down for 30 seconds.

Switch to the other foot and do the same.

Stretch each foot 3 times.

5. Heel Press

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

Next, try this heel press:

Stand facing a wall and place both hands against the wall.

Step one foot back and press the heel of that foot firmly into the ground, keeping your leg straight.

Move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold 30 seconds.

Switch legs and repeat. Try 3 times per foot.

Try not to bounce! Remember that tight calves are often the origin of heel pain.

6. Washcloth Exercise

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

Try the washcloth exercise:

Sit on a chair or the edge of your bed with a washcloth on the floor.

Keep your heel on the ground and lift the washcloth with your toes.

Release and repeat 10 times. Repeat on the other foot.

7. Seated Straight Leg Stretch

Photo Credit: Get Healthy U

Lastly, try this straight leg stretch:

Grab a long band and or towel and sit down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.

Place the band or towel around one foot, keeping that leg straight.

Gently pull back on the band or towel, holding for 30 seconds and breathing gently.

Switch to the other foot. Stretch each side 3 times.

Additional Plantar Fasciitis Treatments

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Along with stretching for plantar fasciitis, you may want to add on some additional treatments.

When plantar fasciitis is treated early, most people resolve their pain with conservative treatments within six weeks. However, sometimes it takes a few treatments stacked on top of one another.

Here are some tried and true treatment options that can be utilized to relieve plantar fasciitis pain:

Ice: Try an ice pack or a frozen water bottle.

Massage: While you are sitting, roll a tennis ball around under your foot to massage the area. It works like a foam roller for your foot. Of course, the frozen water bottle also serves this purpose.

Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help. Ibuprofen or Naproxen are good bets to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief.

Rest: Your feet need time off from whatever is causing the issue. Stop or cut way back on high-impact exercises.

Get New Shoes: Most people wear their workout shoes for far too long before replacing them, so you may need a new pair!

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