What if I told you that doing just two very easy exercises will help treat your plantar fasciitis? A recent randomized controlled trial compared a simple daily stretching regimen, again just 2 exercises, to 6 weeks of in-office physical therapy and found that the home stretching routine was just as good at minimizing pain, improving function, and restoring quality of life. I’m going to show you what these two exercises are and how you can use them to treat plantar fasciitis.
Most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis have limited mobility when it comes to ankle range of motion. This is why pretty much every plantar fasciitis treatment plan includes targeted stretching exercises. This study identified two easy stretches that you can do at home to significantly improve symptoms related to plantar fasciitis.
The first stretch is called the plantar fascia stretch. So what you want to do is to sit down and then cross your symptomatic leg over the other one. Then use one hand to press and pull the toes up towards the shin. This will stretch and create tension within the arch of the foot. You can also use the other hand to gently massage the plantar fascia. Hold this for 10 seconds and do 10 sets total.
The second stretch is a standing calf stretch. Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall and step back with your symptomatic foot. The back leg should be straight and the foot should be flat on the ground facing forwards. Lean forward and you will feel a stretch in your calf and your heel. You can get a deeper stretch by moving the foot father back. Again, hold the stretch for 10 seconds and do 10 sets total.
The treatment protocol consists of doing both of these stretches three times per day, every day, for a total of 6 weeks. The time commitment you’re looking at is only about 10 minutes per day.
This study wanted to know just how effective this stretching regimen would be. They randomized people with plantar fasciitis to either 6 weeks of physical therapy, with all the bells and whistles including soft tissue massage, TENS units, ultrasound treatments, and guided stretching and exercising instructions, or to the simple two exercise at home stretching regimen. They found that there were no differences at all time points up to 1 year for pain, function, and quality of life. The at home stretching regimen was just as good as treatment by a physical therapist.
So give this simple and easy stretching regimen a try and let me know in the comments if it works for you. And if you found this content helpful you may also want to learn more about platelet rich plasma injections for plantar fasciitis. PRP is a new and powerful treatment option that I have been doing for my patients over the last few years and it has been a complete game changer.