Best and Worse Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

If you have plantar fasciitis or some other foot issue that makes moving difficult, you likely will either be in the camp that stresses the resting of the foot or exercising it so that it may loosen up. Depending on the severity of your foot condition and how long you have had it, you may best benefit from resting it.

However, if you spend too much time resting your foot, it can remain sore and possibly get stiff and weak. Those with plantar fasciitis should consult with their podiatrist about establishing an exercise routine that will help loosen and strengthen the foot while also not overextending or overusing it.

If you’re an active person who either doesn’t want to or can’t afford to let a foot injury to derail your ability to move around pain-free for longer than necessary, here are some of the best and worse exercises for plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries:

Best Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Toe Stretches

With these toe exercises, you’ll improve your toe and foot flexibility as well as stretch out the muscles in your feet and calves. This simple exercise can be done anywhere where you have access to a hard chair.

To do this exercise, sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor and be the same width apart as your hips. Raise both heels as high as you can with your toes remaining flat on the floor. Hold the heels up for 10 seconds. Lower the heels back down to the floor. Then raise your toes upward while keeping the rest of the foot flat on the floor. Then curl the toes under the foot. Try and do these exercises 10 times at least three times a week.

Toe Curls

Toe curls help with the flexibility of the toes and strengthens the muscles on the top of the foot. This exercise requires a hard chair and a dish towel or washcloth. Start by sitting in the chair and placing the washcloth or dish towel on the ground in front of you. Place one foot over the towel and grab it with your toes, curling the toes under the foot towards the heel. Extend and relax the toes and push the cloth back away from you and do the same toe grab and pull with the other foot. Do this five times with each foot.

Toe Pickup

Similar to the previous exercise, this toe pickup exercise involves picking up small objects with your toes. Marbles and/or smooth stones work best. Start by placing the marbles on a towel in front of a chair and place a bowl on the towel next to the marbles. Sit in the chair so both feet are flat on the ground. Using one foot, attempt to pick up half the marbles, one by one with your toes and dropping them into the bowl. Use the other foot to do the same with the remaining marbles.

Ball Roll

With this exercise, the muscles on the bottom of the foot will be stretched and strengthened. Any type of ball will work whether it’s a tennis ball, baseball, hockey ball, golf ball, softball, etc. Even if you don’t have a ball, a soda can will work fine.

Simply sit in a hard chair and place the ball of choice or soda can underneath the center of one of the feet. With a slight amount of pressure applied, gently roll the foot back and forth over the ball. Do a few repetitions for each foot.

Take a Walk in the Sand

Walking on soft, uneven sand is a great way to strengthen the feet and ankles as well as stretch your leg and foot muscles, most noticeably the calf muscles. A short, barefoot walk along the local beach is a relaxing way to strengthen your feet. If there is no beach nearby, a sandy playground, sand volleyball court or a desert can also work.

Worst Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis

Jump Training

Popular jump training, or plyometric exercises should be avoided as you’re rehabbing your plantar fasciitis foot. The sudden impact of jumping and landing on the feet during plyometrics can cause further damage, tearing and straining to the tendon of the heels and arches.

Running or Jogging

These two forms of cardiovascular exercises are common causes of plantar fasciitis and other foot injuries in the first place. It isn’t surprising that continuing to run or jog while suffering from a foot injury or foot condition is a bad idea. Besides increasing the pain and discomfort, the hard, constant impact on the foot during these activities can cause further strain, damage and tearing of muscles and tendons of the feet.

Jumping Squats

Jumping squats, also known as squat thrusts or burpees are bad news for those with plantar fasciitis. The sudden impact of jumping and landing on the feet in addition to the quick movements of burpees can easily cause one to re-injure or worsen their plantar fasciitis.

Team Sports

Popular team sports such as soccer, basketball, football, lacrosse, rugby and field hockey should be avoided while one is recovering from plantar fasciitis. The sudden foot movements, and the constant impact from running and jumping can result in the fascia becoming strained, torn or re-injured.

Aerobics and Dancing

One may think aerobics and cardio dancing are safe exercises for plantar fasciitis because of the less hard impact on the feet. Like jump training, both these cardio exercises involve long periods on the feet and sudden, harsh impact on the feet from hopping and jumping.

To best quickly recover from a plantar fasciitis injury or episode, it is important to balance the resting of the feet with correct, safe exercises that strengthen the feet. To find out if you have plantar fasciitis or learn about safe, beneficial exercises to reduce the pain, improve flexibility and speed up healing, contact your podiatrist today.