Woman's lower legs, heels elevated

10 Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis, or any form of heel pain, can make life a lot harder than it needs to be. Whether you feel a stabbing pain in your heel throughout the day or pain when you first put pressure on your foot in the morning, it’s never a pleasant experience.   

Luckily there are plenty of ways that you can treat plantar fasciitis. Orthotic insoles like our arch support insoles can be paired with exercises to treat the condition and strengthen your feet. 

Exercises to treat plantar fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is a result of a damaged or inflamed tendon in your foot. It generally flares up through misuse, overuse or injury. 

Exercise is a great way to treat plantar fasciitis, but it has to be done properly or you could risk making the problem worse. If your pain lasts for two weeks or more, it’s important to speak to a Podiatrist, GP or Physio about what’s happening. 

Most exercises to treat plantar fasciitis aim to stretch or strengthen the muscles in your feet, ankles and calves. Ideally, they would be done each day but if you are feeling discomfort or pain you should stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. 

Towel scrunch

Towel scrunches are one of the easiest exercises on this list and all you need is a towel and a chair. 

Simply sit on a chair and lay a towel on the floor. Put your foot flat on the towel and keep your heel in contact with the ground for the entire exercise. Pull the towel towards your body as you scrunch your toes. 

Aim for two sets with each foot every day with this exercise. 

Toe stretches 

Like with towel scrunches, toe stretches can be done sitting on a chair. 

Start off by extending your leg with the heel resting on the ground. Reach down and pull your big toe up and back while pulling your ankle away from the ground. 

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, or however long you can comfortably hold it. 

Repeat several times each day for the best effect.

Arch lifts 

Strengthening the muscles on the sole of your foot is great for treating plantar fasciitis. 

While sitting in a chair, place your feet flat on the ground. 

Flex the muscles on your foot so that the arch raises off the ground but not your heels or the balls of your feet. 

Hold for a few seconds and then rest. 

For best results, do this exercise for one minute each day.  

Marble pickups 

Marble pickups will strengthen your plantar fascia while also improving your dexterity and balance. 

Get a bowl and a handful of small round objects like marbles or something of a similar shape and size. Place the bowl on the floor with the marbles on the ground in front of you. 

Either standing or sitting, pick each marble up with your toes and put them in the bowl. 

Aim to do five minutes a day with this exercise. You can turn it into a game where you try to increase the number of marbles you get in the bowl each day. 

Heel raises 

Sometimes plantar fasciitis is caused by the calf muscles, so it’s important to try to strengthen these too. Heel raises are an exercise that targets these muscles. 

Stand with both your feet flat on the floor. If you need support, you can hold onto something or support yourself on a wall or door frame.  

Push with the balls of your feet and raise your heels off the ground. Hold this position for a couple of seconds then go back down. 

Aim for three sets of 10 repetitions each day. Over time, you can build this up or repeat the exercise later in your routine. 

Tiptoe walking

To help strengthen your calf muscles (and improve your balance), try to spend a couple of minutes each day walking on your tiptoes. This will also help to improve the stabiliser muscles of your ankle. 

This can feel a bit unusual at first. If you’re struggling, use something for support like a crutch, a wall or a fence.  

Foot flexes

With a stretch band, you can strengthen your calves and help treat your plantar fasciitis. 

Sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, loop the elastic band around your foot and hold it tightly. 

Flex your foot gently, pushing your toes away from you, pushing to get them in line with your legs. 

Hold for a couple of seconds before slowly returning to your original position. 

Aim to do 10 repetitions of this exercise each day. 

Towel stretch

Another exercise for plantar fasciitis that makes use of a trusty towel. 

Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Wrap a rolled-up towel around your feet, ideally underneath the balls of your feet, and hold the ends of the towel.

Pull the towel gently towards yourself so that only the tops of your feet are pulled back.

Hold for around 30 seconds to stretch out your feet. You may find your pain relieved as your plantar fascia is stretched. 

Rolling stretches

For this exercise, find a round object like a tennis ball, a foam roller or even a rolling pin. 

Place it under your foot, mainly at the arch.  Roll your foot back and forth over the object, again making sure it rolls along your arch to stretch your plantar fascia. 

Aim to do this for 10-15 minutes but you can do this as long as you feel comfortable doing it. It’s a long time to sit and just do this, so many people grab a book or watch a show while doing this exercise. 

Start rolling while you are sitting down and when you feel ready, progress to standing up.

Single-leg standing

Lift one foot off the ground and balance on the other. If you are struggling to maintain your balance, you can hold on to something nearby for support. Doing this twice a day for five minutes helps strengthen your feet and ankles and can help you prevent or treat plantar fasciitis. 

These exercises shouldn’t be causing you pain or discomfort. They are designed to help stretch and strengthen your muscles. If you are feeling discomfort or pain it could be a sign you are pushing too hard or stretching your body further than it can cope with. Relax your stretch a little and if the discomfort or pain continues then stop altogether. 

For people with plantar fasciitis, it can be a good idea to stretch your foot before you get out of bed in the morning or after sitting for a long time. If you are exercising, make sure to take it slow and warm up properly.