4 foot exercises to rid plantar fasciitis heel pain - Be My Healer
By Sophie Xie / July 19, 2016

4 exercises to rid plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis heel pain

exercises for plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis

Oh, you have heel pain too? Feet conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis are very common among these days. You friends may be suffering from the similar pain you have and you never got around to talk about it.

However, most people simply survive the pain with pills, became less active and mobile, or buy many inserts and gadgets. 

So what is the most effective formula to rid of foot and heel pain?

  1. Get supportive shoes or orthotics
  2. Massage calf and bottom of foot with tennis ball for other tools
  3. Stretch your calf muscles religiously
  4. Exercise and strengthen your calf and intrinsic foot muscles

Most foot and heel conditions are caused by ankle and foot instability due to muscle imbalance and weakness. Stretching and exercising will help your feet and ankle to recover from the root causes.

Following are the most effective stretches and exercise to treat most foot and heel pain.

1. Calf stretch. Stretch, stretch, stretch...

Calf stretch is the most important part of healing for both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis pain. Shortened and stiff calf muscles will only make your pain worse. Even professional orthotics and inserts are not effective for those with poor calf muscle length.

Recommended reading: ​7 effective and powerful ways to stretch calf muscles

The most basic way you can stretch your calf muscles anywhere is the standing calf stretch.

standing calf stretch
  • Stand facing a wall with your arms straight in front of you and your hands flat against the wall.
  • Keep your right leg forward, foot flat on the floor, and extend your left leg straight back, placing your heel flat on the floor.
  • Keep your back knee straight to stretch the gastroc muscle and bent knee to stretch the soleus muscle
  • Lean your body forward and drive your hip forward
  • Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. 

You can stretch your calf multiple times a day. The best times to stretch calves are first thing in the morning, before and after workouts, and after a warm shower.

For those with chronic heel pain, overpronated feet, and repetitive injuries, you may also need to stretch your tibialis posterior muscles. By adding a wedge or small towel roll under the outside of feet during the above calf stretch, you can effectively stretch your tibialis anterior muscle as well.

2. Heel raises

Heel-raises is the simplest way to strengthen your calf muscles. Calf strength is essential to proper ankle stabilization as we move around.

Once we sustain an injury in our foot, ankle or even knees, our calf muscles will weaken and atrophy away in an amazing speed. Without proper rebuilding of the muscle strength, you may easily be caught up in the vicious cycle of reinjury or chronic ankle pain.

heel raises exercise for heel pain

Image source : hep2go.com

  • Pick a flat and convenient spot for this exercise with wall or furniture to hold on for balance near by
  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hand holding on a firm structure for balance
  • Raise both of your heels up so that you are standing on your tippy-toes, then slow lower your heels down back to ground
  • Repeat the exercise as many as your can, and stop once your calves feel tired. 
single leg heel raises exercise for heel pain

Image source : hep2go.com

If you can easily pump 50 heel raises without feel too much fatigue in your calves, you can advance to single leg heel raises: Balance on one foot while hand holding on to a wall, slowly raising and lowering your weight-bearing heel until your calf muscles become tired.

If you have overpronated feet and suffer from chronic foot or heel pain, you should also consider strengthening your tibialis posterior muscles.

tib post heel raises

While performing the basic heel raise exercise, place a small ball or towel roll between your ankles (squeeze the ball or towel roll gently with your ankles so that they are not fall out). This ball squeeze heel raise exercise will involve the tibialis posterior muscles and promote ankle stabilization.

3. Short foot

According to a small study involving 18 people with severe overpronated feet, the short feet exercise can immediately improve dynamic walking balance among the subjects.

The short foot exercise targets intrinsic foot muscles that support your foot structure, partially reviving your collapsed arch. However, this exercise may require some practice to be done properly. 

short foot arch raise exercise

Image source : hep2go.com

  • Sit in a chair with both feet placed flat on the floor
  • Raise the arch of your foot by sliding your big toe toward your heel without curling your toes or lifting your heel
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds then relax and repeat for 10 times. 

Please remember that movement in this exercise is very small and subtle. For those who have collapsed arches, the abductor hallucis muscle may not be able to activate properly right away due to lack of usage.  Learning to activate and use this muscle will help your feet condition tremendously. Thus, do not give up.

4. Towel crunch

Towel crunch is a popular exercise endorsed by many podiatrists to strengthen foot muscles and reverse conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis, chronic ankle sprain, and recurring bunions. 

​This exercise will be your best friend to get your feet back in shape for walking, running and climbing.

towel crunch exercise for heel pain

Image source : hep2go.com

  • Sit in a chair with your bare feet on the floor. Place a bath towel flat on the floor.
  • Put the toes of your right foot along the bottom edge of the towel.
  • Use your toes (and the entire bottom of your feet) to crunch up the towel. When you reach the end of the towel, extend the towel flat on the floor again. 

Repeat 5-10 times based on how your feet feels. Some people may be prone to feet cramping when first starting the exercise. That is a sign of severe muscle weakness. It is also a sign that you should take it easy and progress slowly to prevent painful cramps.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.

Recommended readings:

Like what you just read? Share this post via our social media buttons! They are everywhere on this page!

Want to know more about treating your own pain with techniques from a physical therapist? Please subscribe to our newsletter!

2 comments

Leave a comment: