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Plantar Fascia Stretches - Five stretches for plantar fascia

Plantar fascia Stretches aim to increase the flexibility of the tightened plantar fascia through a controlled stretch being applied to it in different positions.


Relevant anatomy

The plantar fascia also known as plantar aponeurosis is a broad, thick connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot. It spans the area between the tuberosity of the calcaneus and the heads of the metatarsal bones.
The plantar fascia is made up of predominantly longitudinally oriented collagen fibers. There are three distinct structural components: the medial component, the central component (plantar aponeurosis), and the lateral component. The central component is the largest and most prominent. 
Plantar fascia contributes to static support of arch of the foot by  acting as a tie-rod, where it undergoes tension when the foot bears weight. Strain on the longitudinal arch exerts its maximal pull on the plantar fascia, especially its origin on the medial process of the calcaneal tuberosity. The plantar fascia elongates with increased loads to act as a shock absorber, but its ability to elongate is limited (especially with decreasing elasticity common with age). Passive extension of the MTP joints pulls the plantar fascia distally and also increases the height of the arch of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar aponeurosis and is a common cause of plantar heel pain. Symptoms include pain and tenderness located inferiorly at the plantar fascia origin (not posteriorly). Almost all patients complain of inferior heel pain in the mornings with the first few steps and may complain of pain after prolonged walking or standing.

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is more common in sports that involve running and long-distance walking and is also frequent in dancers, tennis players, basketball players, and non-athletes whose occupations require prolonged weight bearing. Direct repetitive micro trauma with heel strike to the ligamentous and nerve structures has been implicated, especially in middle-aged, overweight, non athletic individuals who stand on hard, unyielding surfaces and in long-distance runners.

Stretching of the plantar fascia and/or the Achilles tendon has traditionally been the primary treatment of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fascia–specific stretching exercises aim to produce maximal tissue tension through a controlled stretch of the plantar fascia.
Some of the exercises to stretch the plantar fascia are given under :

 
Plantar fascia stretch on a stair
Plantar fascia stretches
 

Plantar fascia stretch on a stair

  • From stairs or a curb lower your heel until a stretch is felt in sole of your foot.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat for 5 to 7 times.

 
Foot arch stretch in sitting
Foot arch stretch in sitting
 

Foot arch stretch in sitting

  • Sit on edge of a chair.
  • Place your foot on top of a rolling pin and gently roll your foot forwards and backwards over rolling pin.
  • Feel the stretch in the arch of your foot.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat for 5 to 7 times.

 
Plantar fascia stretch with gastroc stretch
Plantar fascia stretch with gastroc stretch
 

Plantar fascia stretch with gastroc stretch standing

  • Stand with one foot on wedge (wedge to be slanted at about 30 degree from the floor)
  • Keep your heel resting on the floor and hands on the wall as shown.
  • With the leg straight press your body forwards.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat for 5 to 7 times.

 
Plantar fascia stretch with soleus stretch
Plantar fascia stretch with soleus stretch
 

Plantar fascia stretch with soleus stretch standing

  • Stand with one foot on wedge (wedge to be slanted at about 30 degree from the floor)
  • Keep your heel resting on the floor and hands on the wall as shown.
  • Keep your knees slightly flexed and press your body forwards.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds and repeat for 5 to 7 times.

 
Plantar fascia stretch assisted
Plantar fascia stretches assisted
 

Plantar fascia stretch assisted

  • Perform this stretch with the help of  your partner
  • Keep your heel in partners hand, have your partner gently push the toes towards your trunk until a stretch is felt in the sole of foot.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds.
  • To increase the intensity of the stretch you may gently lean forward towards your partner.
  • Repeat the stretch for 5 to 7 times.