5 Exercises to help you be foot pain free One of the number one questions I get asked by athletes, but especially runners is,

How can I be foot pain free?”

Foot pain, especially along the arch, is often caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis. This occurs when the fascia – a sheet a connective tissue – covering the muscles in your arch, becomes inflamed and irritated, often leading to tightness and pain.

Most often, the pain is super intense when you first get out of bed in the morning and when you try to walk after sitting down for a while. It pretty much feels like your arch is going to rip in half.

Then, it will loosen up and feel better until you’re up on your feet for too long. It’s really a vicious cycle.

So…what can you do to be foot pain free?

Well, as with any physical condition, there are no guarantees. These symptoms can be caused by weakness in certain muscles, tightness in others, issues with foot biomechanics, or structural issues that can only be improved with orthotic inserts. So – the best first step is to consult a medical professional before beginning any program.

Once you’re cleared by the MD, give these exercises a try.

1. Standing Calf Stretch #1 (Gastrocnemius)

It’s best to stretch your calf in this position and not allow your heel to hang off of a step, etc. to avoid overstretching.

Standing Gastrocnemius StretchStand with your hands on a wall/door. Put one foot behind you and make sure that your toes are straight ahead or slightly in – don’t let your foot turn out. Keep your heel flat and your back knee straight. Now gently bend your front knee until you feel a gentle stretch in the calf of the back leg but no pain.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

2. Standing Calf Strech #2 (Soleus)

Your Achilles tendon is formed when the gastrocnemius and the soles muscles come together. It then attaches to your heel. When these muscles are tight, they can cause abnormal pulling on that area, which puts more stress on the plantar fascia.

Standing soleus stretchThis stretch is performed the same way as the first, but once you feel a gentle stretch in the back calf, keep your heel on the ground, but gently bend your back knee. You should feel the stretch lower toward your Achilles tendon.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

3. Big Toe Stretch

The longest muscle/tendon of the arch is the one that bends your big toe. Stretching this muscle and tendon can loosen the plantar fascia.

Big Toe StretchSit with your ankle crossed on your opposite knee. Gently pull your big toe up until you feel a gentle stretch along the arch but no pain.

Hold 30 seconds. Do 2 times.

4. Toe Raises with Feet Turned In 

Many times, plantar fasciitis is found in people who overpronate when they walk/run (when the arch flattens out and the ankle drops in). Weakness in the posterior tibialis muscle can contribute to this overpronation, but this is one exercise that can help strengthen that muscle.

Inversion toe raisesStand with your feet shoulder width apart. Turn your toes inward so you’re slightly pigeon-toed. Raise up onto your toes. Lower yourself slowly.

Do 10 repetitions. Rest. Do 2 sets.

5. Ice Bottle/Golf Ball/Tennis Ball Rolls

This exercise is especially beneficial before you get out of bed or before you stand after prolonged sitting. Basically you’re giving yourself a massage to loosen the super-tightened tissues along the arch.

Plantar fasciitis massageIt’s self explanatory, but use a golf ball, tennis ball, or frozen bottle of water and roll your foot around on it so that you feel a gentle massage along those tissues. You might feel discomfort, but don’t push to the point of severe pain.

Do this for 3-5 minutes at a time. 

If you’ve been working on these for a couple of weeks, and you still don’t see any results, there are plenty of other options. See your MD and request to be treated by a licensed Physical Therapist who can more accurately examine and assess what the best course of treatment might be.

Best of luck in being FOOT-PAIN FREE!

Let’s Get FIT Together!