Heel pain can be caused by stress placed on the
plantar fascia ligament when it is stretched irregularly, which causes small
tears and inflammation. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help the
ligament become more flexible and can strengthen muscles that support the arch,
in turn reducing stress on the ligament.
Exercises for plantar
fasciitis—when combined with other steps such as resting, avoiding activities
that make heel pain worse, using shoe inserts, icing, or taking pain
relievers—usually succeed in relieving heel pain.
plantar fasciitis may be especially helpful for reducing heel pain when you
first get out of bed.
If you have questions about how to do these
exercises or if your heel pain gets worse, talk to your doctor.
and stretching before sports or exercise may make your plantar fascia more flexible and may decrease the
chance of injury and inflammation.
You may want to take a pain reliever such as
a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), including ibuprofen
or naproxen, to relieve inflammation and pain. Some people take NSAIDs
at least 30 minutes before doing recommended
exercise, to relieve pain and allow them to do and enjoy
the exercise. Other people take NSAIDs after they exercise. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
ice your heel to help relieve pain and inflammation.
Stretching exercises before getting out of bed
Many people with plantar fasciitis have intense heel
pain in the morning, when they take their first steps after getting out of bed. This
pain comes from the tightening of the plantar fascia that occurs during sleep.
Stretching or massaging the plantar fascia before standing up can often reduce
Stretch your foot by flexing it up and down 10
times before standing.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2010). Plantar fasciitis. In JF Sarwark, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 4th ed., pp. 839–844. Rosemont, IL: American
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Other Works Consulted
Digiovanni BF, et al. (2006). Plantar fascia-specific stretching exercise improves outcomes in patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. A prospective clinical trial with two-year follow-up. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 88(6): 1775–1781.
Pasquina PF, Foster LS (2008). Plantar fasciitis. In WR Frontera et al., eds., Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation, 2nd ed., pp. 469–473. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Gavin W.G. Chalmers, DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Current as of
March 12, 2014
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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