If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, then you understand how painful and debilitating it can be at times. Below is more information on this fairly common disorder of the feet and how you can treat it using stretching and massage at home.

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is still not completely understood by medical professionals, as it is a complex condition centered around irritation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a large, flat tendon that extends from the heel to the toes; it is located on the bottom of the foot, and the plantar fascia covers a variety of muscles and deep ligaments.

If the plantar fascia becomes irritated due to exertion through running, inward turning of the foot due to flat-footed walking, or other causes, tissue scarring can occur. Worse, the scar adhesions can cause the underlying tissues to also become inflamed and painful.

The pain caused by plantar fasciitis is typically experienced in the morning, and though it usually occurs in one foot, it affects both feet in a third of those afflicted. After a period of time of normal activity, the severe pain will usually fade over the course of the day as the plantar fascia and related tissues are stretched.

How to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain with stretching and massage

Since passive stretching through normal activity can alleviate plantar fasciitis pain, healing can be hastened by deliberate stretching. In addition, incorporating massage into a routine will also help break up soft tissue adhesions that can cause fasciitis.

Below is a simple, yet effective, routine that you can use in the mornings to reduce or even eliminate the pain of plantar fasciitis without resorting to medication. This routine can be performed anywhere and only requires lubricating oil for the skin; no other equipment is needed.

Plantar fascia stretching and massage—step by step:

  1. Get into a comfortable sitting position—Remove your socks a few minutes before you begin and allow your feet to air out and dry if they are sweaty or clammy. Next, find a firm, supportive chair and sit with the affected foot crossed over the top of your thigh. Keep your healthy foot flat on the floor to lend support to your body. If you have bilateral plantar fasciitis, then switch positions after you have completed a round of stretching and massage with the first foot.

  2. Grasp your heel with your hand—Once you have positioned your foot across the thigh, firmly grasp your heel with the hand on the same side of the body as the foot. Don't squeeze to the point of inducing pain, but be sure to get a strong grip to provide leverage.

  3. Grasp your toes with your other hand—After you have a firm hold on your heel, take your other hand and grasp the toes on the same foot. Place the palm of your hand on the toes and cup them with your fingers.

  4. Perform the foot stretch with your hands—While maintaining a firm grip on your heel, push your toes inward and upward with the opposite hand, keeping your heel in the same position. Next, push your entire foot upward until you feel tension across the bottom of the your foot from heel to toe. Hold this position for a slow count from one to ten, then let go of your foot completely and allow it to relax. Once again, perform a slow count from one to ten.

  5. Repeat the foot stretch procedure—After allowing your foot to relax for ten seconds, repeat the cycle of stretching and relaxing a total of ten times.

  6. Apply a small amount of lubricating oil to the sole of your foot—After you have finished the stretching part of the routine, you are ready to begin massaging your foot. Rub a small quantity of water-based lubricant on the sole of your foot; do not use an excessive amount, or you will not be able to gain the needed friction on your sole.

  7. Grasp your toes with your opposite hand and push them upward—Repeat step 3 and the first part of step 4 by using the same technique of cupping your toes and pushing them upward; however, do not grasp your heel this time.

  8. Place the thumb of your hand on the inside of your foot—While holding your toes steady, take the thumb of your hand on the same side of your body as the affected foot and press it firmly into the bottom of your inside sole close to your heel. Apply strong pressure, but let up if it becomes too painful.

  9. Draw your thumb across the sole of your foot—Take your thumb and slowly pull it across your sole from the inside toward the outside of your foot. Maintain a firm, even pressure to help loosen the underlying tissues. After making the first stroke across your foot, move your thumb about one-half of an inch toward your toes and reposition it on the inside of your sole. Once again, slowly draw your thumb across the bottom of your foot toward its outside edge. Continue this process of pulling your thumb and repositioning it incrementally closer toward your toes until you have covered the entire bottom of your foot. For best results, perform three-to-five repetitions of this massage procedure.​

For further information about how to help your plantar fasciitis, contact a representative from a facility like Advanced Foot Clinic.