May 27, 2024
Home » A Guide to Stretching for Plantar Fasciitis Relief

Can various stretches can help relieve individuals with plantar fasciitis to reduce foot pain and restore gait function?

Introduction

As human beings, we are constantly on the move, and our feet are the ones that take a toll after a long day. The feet have various muscles, ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues that help protect the joints and provide stability. The feet are part of the lower body extremities that aid in mobility and strength of the upper body. When many individuals are constantly on their feet, the muscles and ligaments become overworked and can develop into pain-like issues. Most of the time, it is just muscle aches and pain; however, when repetitive motions start to cause more problems on the feet, it can lead to micro tears in the foot’s fascia. This, in turn, can lead to the development of plantar fasciitis, affecting a person’s gait ability. Today’s article looks at how plantar fasciitis affects gait function and how various stretches can help alleviate plantar fasciitis. We discuss with certified associated medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess plantar fasciitis and its associated comorbidities. We also inform and guide patients on various stretches for plantar fasciitis and ask their associated medical providers intricate questions to integrate a customized treatment plan to incorporate multiple stretches to reduce the pain-like symptoms correlated with it. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.

 

How Plantar Fasciitis Affects Gait Function

Do you feel like you are walking crooked from one location to another? Do you feel a stabbing pain when you take your first steps? Or do you feel constant pain in your feet while you are resting? As stated earlier, many individuals are constantly on their feet and have dealt with some pain that can affect their quality of life. Since the feet are part of the lower body extremities, a person experiencing a lot of pain in their heels can lead to a chronic musculoskeletal condition known as plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia plays a huge part in the human body as it helps with the normal biomechanics of the foot, supports the arch, and provides shock absorption when a person is stepping. (Buchanan et al., 2024) When a person has been doing repetitive motions on their feet, it can lead to the development of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a common musculoskeletal disease that causes chronic degenerative changes in the plantar fascia. This musculoskeletal disease is also associated with mechanical factors such as repetitive stress and weight bearing that can lead to microtears in the muscle fibers. (Tseng et al., 2023) That point causes many individuals to have gait issues and other comorbidities.

 

 

Some risk factors correlated with plantar fasciitis are decreased ROM in plantarflexion and increased tensile load, which can cause many individuals to have gait issues while walking. (Hamstra-Wright et al., 2021) Since many individuals rely on walking and are experiencing pain from plantar fasciitis, not only their gait function is being affected, but the surrounding muscles in the legs are also affected. Pain symptoms like intrinsic muscle weakness, reduced muscle strength on the legs and dorsiflexion, leg length discrepancy, and arch deformity can increase the chances of plantar fasciitis developing. (Khammas et al., 2023) This can cause many individuals to have gait dysfunction since the pain can be unbearable. Additionally, when people deal with plantar fasciitis, they shift their weight to one side of their bodies to reduce the pain and allow their secondary muscles to take on the unnecessary weight load. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the pain-like effects of plantar fasciitis and help restore a person’s gait function.

 


What is Plantar Fasciitis?-Video


Effective Stretches To Alleviate Plantar Fasciitis

 

When it comes to reducing plantar fasciitis, many individuals seek various treatments to reduce the pain-like symptoms causing their gait dysfunction. Many individuals seek non-surgical and surgical treatments to find the right solution for their plantar fasciitis. Depending on the severity of the pain affecting their feet, the main objective is to reduce tissue compressive load and provide a personalized treatment plan to educate and treat plantar fasciitis. (Morrissey et al., 2021) One of the best ways to reduce the pain from plantar fasciitis is by incorporating various stretches. Various stretches for plantar fasciitis can be effective as they can help relieve pain and enhance muscle strength in the extrinsic and intrinsic foot muscles. (Boonchum et al., 2020) Below are some stretches that many people dealing with plantar fasciitis can do at home to relieve the pain.

 

Towel Stretch

This simple stretch is perfect for the morning, especially before taking your first steps.

How to do it:

  • Sit alongside the bed with your legs straight in front of you.
  • Loop a towel around the ball of the feet and hold each end with your hands.
  • Pull the towel towards you while trying to keep the knees straight until you feel a stretch along the bottom of your foot and calf.
  • Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-3 times for each foot.

 

Calf Stretches

Tight calf muscles can exacerbate plantar fasciitis. Stretching your calves can relieve the pressure on your plantar fascia.

How to do it:

  • Stand near a wall with one foot back and one foot in front of you.
  • Keep your back heel on the ground and bend your front knee until you feel a stretch in the back leg’s calf muscle.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds and switch.
  • Repeat 2-3 times for each leg.

 

Plantar Fascia Stretch

Directly stretching the plantar fascia can help alleviate pain and improve foot function.

How to do it:

  • Sit with your affected foot and place it over the opposite side.
  • Use your hand to pull your toes back towards the shin until you feel a stretch along the arch of your foot.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds and repeat the stretch three times.

 

Achilles Tendon Stretch

This stretch helps both the calf muscles and the plantar fascia.

How to do it:

  • Stand with your affected foot behind you.
  • Keep your heel down and bend your knee slightly.
  • Hold the position for 15-20 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat 2-3 times for each leg.

 

Marble Pickup

Strengthening the muscles around your foot can also support the healing process.

How to do it:

  • Sit in a chair
  • Then, place 20 marbles and a bowl on the floor before your feet.
  • Use your toes to pick up one marble and place it into a bowl one at a time.
  • Repeat until you have all the marbles in the bowl.

 


References

Boonchum, H., Bovonsunthonchai, S., Sinsurin, K., & Kunanusornchai, W. (2020). Effect of a home-based stretching exercise on multi-segmental foot motion and clinical outcomes in patients with plantar fasciitis. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact, 20(3), 411-420. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32877978

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7493445/pdf/JMNI-20-411.pdf

Buchanan, B. K., Sina, R. E., & Kushner, D. (2024). Plantar Fasciitis. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28613727

Hamstra-Wright, K. L., Huxel Bliven, K. C., Bay, R. C., & Aydemir, B. (2021). Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis in Physically Active Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sports Health, 13(3), 296-303. doi.org/10.1177/1941738120970976

Khammas, A. S. A., Mahmud, R., Hassan, H. A., Ibrahim, I., & Mohammed, S. S. (2023). An assessment of plantar fascia with ultrasound findings in patients with plantar fasciitis: a systematic review. J Ultrasound, 26(1), 13-38. doi.org/10.1007/s40477-022-00712-0

Morrissey, D., Cotchett, M., Said J’Bari, A., Prior, T., Griffiths, I. B., Rathleff, M. S., Gulle, H., Vicenzino, B., & Barton, C. J. (2021). Management of plantar heel pain: a best practice guide informed by a systematic review, expert clinical reasoning and patient values. Br J Sports Med, 55(19), 1106-1118. doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-101970

Tseng, W. C., Chen, Y. C., Lee, T. M., & Chen, W. S. (2023). Plantar Fasciitis: An Updated Review. J Med Ultrasound, 31(4), 268-274. doi.org/10.4103/jmu.jmu_2_23

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