At Sydney Heel Pain Clinic we are asked this question on a daily basis. Unfortunately many of our new patients are doing stretches that actually prolong the condition. They have been advised to do stretches for their Plantar Fasciitis and they may feel short-term relief (a few minutes is common) but the strain on their plantar fascia during their stretches actually aggravates the heel. There is a specific stretch that will release the heel without pulling on the Plantar Fascia but it must be done very carefully. Most of our new patients are not aware of the technique but it is very easy to learn once shown.
One of the common Plantar Fasciitis Stretches is hanging the heel off the back of a step or stair. This actually stretches the calf muscle which is always important in the treatment of Plantar Fasciitis, but the strain that goes through the sole of the foot and the Plantar Fascia creates pulling on the heel. Imagine the Plantar Fascia is like a rigid steel cable running through the sole of the foot. You can’t lengthen it, its too rigid, so you only cause pulling of the plantar fascia from the heel bone. This aggravates the condition and can prolong Plantar Fasciitis. Yes, you can feel short-term relief, but if you are not getting on top of the condition then you need to do different Plantar Fasciitis Stretches.
These Plantar Fasciitis stretches are another common stretch that strain the sole of the foot and create pulling on the heel. It feels like a good Achilles stretch / calf stretch which does release the heel in the long term, but the pulling on the Plantar Fascia in the short term can prolong the Plantar Fasciitis. It is important to stretch the calf muscles or Achilles tendon without pulling the Plantar Fascia from the heel. Regardless of the short-term pain relief, your Plantar Fasciitis may still persist and you may need to change your Plantar Fasciitis Stretches.
If your calves are tight then they pull on the heel and this can cause Plantar Fasciitis and definitely delay healing. The problem is that most patients are performing these stretches with their foot in a position that strains or pulls the Plantar Fascia. This is counter productive as it can aggravate the condition and can cause pulling on the heel.
Pulling back on the toes (using your hands or a towel). This also has the same negative effects as those described above. In summary, Plantar Fasciitis Stretches should not be stretches for the plantar fascia!
They should be calf / Achilles stretches that release the heel and hence release the Plantar Fascia. These should be done with the foot in a very specific position which removes the Plantar Fascia from the stretch. It’s a simple stretch that is essential in the healing of Plantar Fasciitis and can be learned easily.
At Sydney Heel Pain Clinic we can clear up the confusion. We will demonstrate the Plantar Fasciitis Stretches that alleviate the condition.