Laurel physical therapists offer these effective exercises to help you avoid plantar fasciitis now that the weather is warming up

laurel physical therapists plantar fasciitis

April 17, 2017

With summer-like weather already arriving in Maryland, you can surely count on seeing a whole lot more people outdoors to soak it up with their favorite activity. This is great news for everyone, and the time of year that many of us look forward to the most. But for those of you embracing the weather by running or walking a high number of miles, our Laurel physical therapists urge you to take certain precautions against painful conditions like plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a stubborn injury that’s typically considered the single most common cause of heel pain. Though it occurs most frequently in long-distance runners, plantar fasciitis can develop from performing just about any activity that requires lots of running or walking without taking enough time in between to recover. This is why we often see many cases during this time of year when the weather starts getting nice again.

The plantar fascia is a thick, connective band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel to the toes. It’s designed to absorb the regular stresses we put on out feet and is a rather tough structure, but when too much pressure is applied the tissue can get damaged, leading to inflammation and pain. The most common symptom of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain near the heel that’s most noticeable upon waking up and after standing for too long. In addition to long-distance runners who put lots of repetitive strain on their feet, people who have flat feet or high arches, as well as those who are overweight or regularly perform any other weight-bearing activity are also at increased risk.

Plantar fasciitis is also notorious for coming back after initial symptoms start to go away, and 10% of patients have the condition for more than one year. This highlights the importance of getting proper treatment early on to keep symptoms at bay, but an even better strategy is to prevent plantar fasciitis from occurring in the first place.

For anyone that may be at risk for developing plantar fasciitis, our Laurel physical therapists recommend the following exercises, which will improve your strength and flexibility and reduce your injury risk:

  • Strengthening exercises
    • Calf raises: stand with your toes on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off, lower your heels past the step, then raise them back to the starting position
    • Doming: while standing, press your toe downward into the ground while keeping your heel planted, so that the foot forms an arch (or dome)
    • Towel curl: while seated, place a towel on the floor and use only your toes to scrunch the towel toward you, hold it, then push it back to start position
  • Flexibility/mobility exercises
    • Standing calf stretch: place your hands against a wall with one leg forward and bent, then move your hips forward to stretch your calf
    • Plantar fascia stretch: stand with the ball of your foot on a stair, reach for the bottom step with your heel until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot
    • Towel stretch: sit on a hard surface with your leg stretched out in front of you, loop a towel around the ball of foot and pull the towel toward your body

The best way to deal with plantar fasciitis is to prevent it before it develops. Laurel physical therapist Pamela Rhone and our other therapists at CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services can help you with this process by guiding you through these—and other—exercises and offering your training tips so you don’t over-strain yourself. Contact us at 301-776-9443 to schedule an appointment at any of our three clinics in Laurel, Hyattsville or Glenn Dale/Bowie, MD today, or click here for more information on preventing plantar fasciitis.