Plantar fasciitis is characterized by discomfort, often described as a stabbing pain on the underside of the heel or a sensation of tightness or tenderness along the arch of the foot. This condition typically develops when a repeated activity or a sudden increase in activity, put a strain on the plantar fascia, the thick band of connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot. This can cause the tissue to tear or become inflamed, resulting in pain. 

People with plantar fasciitis often experience this pain following activities like: 

  • Standing up or stepping after resting
  • Standing for long periods 
  • After performing an intense activity, such as running or jumping 
  • When climbing stairs 
  • While walking barefoot or in shoes with poor support 


Approximately two million Americans develop this condition each year, and roughly 10% of the population will experience plantar fasciitis at some point during their lifetime. Additionally, plantar fasciitis: 

  • Affects athletes and non-athletes 
  • Impacts men and women equally 
  • Develops most frequently in people in their 40s, but can occur in all age groups


The good news is that research shows most cases of plantar fasciitis improve over time with conservative treatments. Follow along as Orthopedic ONE's David Freed, PT, OCS, gives an overview of plantar fasciitis and demonstrates exercises designed to improve flexibility and strengthen the foot, ideally resulting in less pain!


  • Plantar Fascia Stretch 
  1. While seated, extend the affected leg so your heel is on the floor
  2. With your hand, reach down and pull the big toe up and back, toward your ankle and away from the floor
  3. Hold the position for 15- 30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times, several times a day

 

  • Foot Intrinsics
  1. Spread toes out and apart 
  2. Perform 20 repetitions, holding for two seconds each, twice per day 

 

  • Towel Curls
  1. While sitting, place your foot on a towel on the floor and scrunch the towel toward you with your toes
  2. Then, also using your toes, push the towel away from you
  3. Perform 20 repetitions, twice per day

 

  • Banded Calf Stretch
  1. Place a non-elastic band under the ball of your foot, holding the band at both ends
  2. Gently pull the band toward you, while keeping your knee straight
  3. Perform 5 sets. Hold for 20 seconds each, twice per day

 

  • Step Calf Stretch
  1. Stand on a step and hold on to the banister
  2. Slowly let your heel down over the edge of the step as you relax your calf muscles. You should feel a gentle stretch across the bottom of your foot and up the back of your leg to your knee
  3. Do this for each foot individually to get a more effective stretch
  4. Perform 5 sets. Hold for 20 seconds each, four times per day 


It is important to note that depending on the severity of the condition, it may take weeks to months to notice a marked improvement. In addition to performing these exercises as directed, the following tips may also help:  

  • Relative rest from the offending activity
  • Limit going barefoot 
  • Wearing footwear with good arch support and cushion in the heel
  • Using a night splint or Strassburg Sock for added support while sleeping 


If your pain persists, you may need a more thorough evaluation. The team at Orthopedic ONE can develop a plan specific to your needs, to help ease plantar fasciitis symptoms, so you can get back to doing the activities you love!