At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, our award-winning podiatrists treat a variety of foot and ankle issues. One of the most common conditions we treat is plantar fasciitis, which is caused by inflammation in the fibrous tissue (fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot and supports the arch of the foot. Around one in ten people experience this condition at some point in their lives, which commonly presents as heel pain when you first wake up. Stretching exercises for plantar fasciitis

Stretches Are a Key Component of Treatment

There are a number of interventions that can be used to treat plantar fasciitis. One of the least invasive and most successful options is strengthening and stretching the fascia. Certain exercises can help manage the pain and improve functioning. They can be done at home or under the supervision of a physical therapist.


Sit down and place a tennis ball, rolling pin, frozen bottle of water, or other cylinder item under your foot. Gently roll the object under your arch for three to five minutes, twice per day.

Towel Stretch

While seated, use a towel and hold onto the ends with your foot in the middle. Extend your leg in front of you while gently pulling the towel toward you. Be sure to keep your leg stable. Hold the position for 45 seconds, rest, and then repeat twice more. This exercise can be done four to six times each day.

Toe Stretch

From a seated position, extend your leg and place just your heel on the floor. Bend over and grab your big toe, gently pulling it toward you. At the same time, bend your ankle up, so that it pulls away from the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, rest, and then repeat two to four times. This exercise can be completed multiple times per day.

Toe Curls

While seated, place a towel flat under your foot. Using only your toes, bunch up the towel and once it is scrunched up, flatten it back out, also only using your toes. Repeat 10 times, once or twice per day.

Ballet Raises

Find a sturdy chair and stand behind it with both feet flat on the floor. Use the back of the chair for support as you raise up onto your toes and hold the position for five seconds. Lower yourself back down. Complete two sets of 15, resting for 30 seconds between sets.

Calf Stretch

Stand facing a wall with one foot behind the other. Place the foot with plantar fasciitis in the back. Keep your back leg straight while you lean forward and bend your front knee. Keep your back heel on the ground and stretch the calf muscle for 45 seconds. Take a break then repeat two to three more times. This exercise can be completed four to six times per day.

Wall Lean

Stand in front of a wall. Place your palms on the wall at eye level and one foot about 12 inches in front of the other. Keep your front knee straight, and put your toes against the wall, as high as they will stretch with your foot on the ground. Bend your elbows and lean into the wall, stretching the front foot. Hold for 30 seconds before returning to your starting position. Repeat three times. Change feet and complete the exercise again. This process can be repeated several times each day.

Stair Stretch

Place the foot you wish to stretch behind you and place the other foot up on a step or curb. Lean into the stairs with your back foot flat. You will feel stretching at the back of the heel.

Hip Hovers

Lay on your stomach, on a yoga mat or carpet. Fold your arms under your head. Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Tighten your buttocks on the side of your body where you have plantar fasciitis. Raise your leg about 8 inches off of the floor and hold it there for five seconds. Lower your leg and relax. Complete two sets of 15.

Sideways Leg Lifts

Lay on your side with your head on your lower arms. Extend your legs straight, with one on top of the other. Clench your front thigh muscles in the leg that is on top and lift it 8 inches above the other leg. Lower the leg while keeping it straight. Complete two sets of 15.

Picking Up Marbles

Put marbles on the ground next to a coffee cup. Use your toes to lift the marbles off of the ground and put them in the mug. Continue until all of the marbles are inside the cup. Repeat the exercise once or twice per day.

Other Steps to Manage Plantar Fasciitis

In addition to stretches, the podiatrists at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists also recommend a variety of other strategies to help our patients with plantar fasciitis manage their condition, including the following:

  • Wearing supportive footwear and avoiding high heels
  • Changing up exercise routines to include more low-impact activities
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  • Using custom orthotics
  • Warming up and stretching before exercise
  • Easing into new activities and not jumping straight to the most intense workout option
  • Trying MLS laser therapy
  • Having Perinatal tissue injections
Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist
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