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Plantar Fasciitis - Exercises

What is plantar fasciitis?

A plantar fasciitis or plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick band of fibrous tissue that extends from the heel bone to the toes. This band is covered in fat to absorb shocks and supports the plantar arch.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, affecting between 3.6 and 7.0% of the population. Its peak incidence occurs between 40 and 60 years of age, affecting females and males equally.

Plantar fasciitis is in most cases unilateral, affecting both the left and right heel. Bilateral plantar fasciitis, that is, affecting both feet simultaneously, is less common, occurring in around a third of cases.

Regarding the duration of symptoms, it is important to highlight that ignoring plantar fasciitis in its acute, can lead to a situation of chronic pain.

Causes of plantar fasciitis

Although the causes of plantar fasciitis are not completely known, it is known that there are some risk factors for the development of the disease, namely:

  • Obesity (overweight) - body mass index (BMI) greater than 30;
  • Loaded sporting activity (running, jumping, ballet and dancing), or when people remain standing for long periods of time;
  • Age;
  • Pes cavus/flat foot/abnormal gait patterns;
  • Decreased ankle dorsiflexion (less than 0º);
  • Retraction of the gastrocnemius-soleus and hamstring muscles;
  • Secondary to systemic inflammatory diseases.
  • It is controversial whether the presence of a calcaneal spur contributes to the symptoms. It should be noted that between 11 and 46% of patients with heel spurs are asymptomatic, and in 32% of patients with plantar fasciitis the heel spur is not present.

Plantar fasciitis symptoms

In plantar fasciitis, the main symptom is the heel pain , often described as "stinging." The pain typically has an insidious and non-radiating onset, often when getting out of bed in the morning and tends to ease after taking the first steps. The pain tends to worsen when climbing stairs or if the patient remains standing for a while.

The pain tends to ease with ambulation (walking, walking) and worsens with prolonged rest. Usually, the pain worsens at the end of the day with prolonged standing.

In some cases, some edema (“swelling”) of the heel and ankle may occur.

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Exercise 1 - Strengthening the foot muscles

Objective: Toning the foot muscles, for stabilization and pressure relief, as well as working the plantar fascia.

What you need: A towel spread out on the floor.

1. Place your foot on a towel spread out on the floor.
2. Use your toes to bring the towel to your feet, wrapping it up.

Repetitions: Repeat the exercise for 3 to 4 minutes, with both feet simultaneously.

Exercise 2 - Stretching the plantar fascia

Objective: Increase flexibility and reduce heel pain.

What you need: A step.

1. Place your foot on a step, or any elevated smooth object, supporting only the front part of the foot, and leaving the remaining part of the foot elevated in the air.
2. Bring your entire body weight down, so that your heel comes down. You will notice a stretch on the bottom of the foot, and on the front of the leg, up to the knee.

Repetitions : Repeat the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Exercise 3 - Stretching the plantar fascia

Objective: Stretch the plantar fascia and reduce pain.

What you need: A wall.

1. Support the affected foot against a vertical wall.
2. Apply pressure to the wall by flexing the foot upwards and squeezing the muscles in the front of the leg.

Repetitions: Repeat the exercise 3-4 times a day, 5 days a week.

Exercise 4 - Finger Stretching

Objective: Stretch the plantar muscles and calf muscles.

What you need: Nothing is needed. The exercise must be performed sitting.

1. Extend the affected leg, with the heel resting on the floor.
2. Stretch the first toe, upwards and backwards, simultaneously.
3. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Repetitions: Repeat the exercise 2-3 times, several times a day.


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