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Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the plantar fascia of the foot becomes inflamed. The plantar fascia is a thick tissue that runs along the heel to the base of the toes. Inflammation commonly occurs when the underside of the foot experiences repeated stresses that put pressure on the heel. Risk factors include sports that involve repetitive motions or jumping, such as running and basketball, being overweight and or inadequate arch support in footwear. Consult with a physician or physical therapist if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis, for appropriate diagnosis and a treatment plan.
A standing calf stretch can help alleviate and prevent plantar fasciitis. The calf muscles in the back of the leg become tight with repetitive exercises and motions. Stretching out the muscles in the back of the leg can decrease strain on the ankle and foot. Perform a standing calf stretch by placing your hands against a flat wall at eye level. Put your legs into a stride stance by putting the injured leg behind you and the uninjured leg in front with the knee bent. The front knee should be over the front ankle, while the back leg should be straight with the heel on the ground. Press into the wall gently until you feel a stretch in the back leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Towel scrunches, or towel pickup, is another effective exercise for plantar fasciitis. This exercise involves sitting down with half your foot resting on a towel. While keeping your heel on the ground, try picking up the towel with your toes by curling and uncurling toes. Release between pick-up attempts. Repeat 10 to 20 times or for one minute. This exercise aids in stretching the fascia while also increasing arch support strength.
A towel stretch aids in stretching the muscles in the back of the leg, Achilles tendon and the sole of the foot. Sit on a firm surface with both legs stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around the injured foot and hold each end in one hand. Gently pull the towel toward you to point your toes toward your face. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Perform a self-massage of the plantar fascia with a frozen can or golf ball. Place a frozen, empty juice or soda can under the arch of your foot and gently roll can back and forth from heel to the arch. Repeat for two to five minutes. A cold can is effective since cold aids in decreasing inflammation and swelling. Alternatively, a golf or tennis ball can also be used to massage the fascia in the foot in the same manner as that of a can.