If you’re a runner you’ve likely felt, on occasion, that horrible twinge in the sole of your foot that signals plantar fasciitis. Or perhaps you’ve struggled with the issue on and off for years. Either way, there’s no getting around it—this condition hurts like hell and can completely derail your training and racing schedule. But you don’t have to grin and bear it any longer. While there’s no single cure, doing these five mobility exercises can offer some relief and might even put your plantar fasciitis to rest for good.
Many potential remedies just focus on the foot itself. While this is necessary, it overlooks the fact that if the soft tissues higher up the leg (like the soleus, gastrocnemius, posterior tibialis, and so on) are overly tight, they can start tugging on the myriad structures in the foot. So we need to feed some slack into the calf and attack it from multiple angles, as well as giving your poor aching dogs some TLC.
This way, you’ll be tackling the problem at its root, addressing trigger points, and helping prevent the fire from bursting into flames in the first place, rather than simply dousing the blaze when it’s already burning red hot. Try these moves from mobility specialist Dr. Kelly Starrett to put your foot down on plantar fasciitis—and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that cause it.
Foot Ball Rollout
- Stand up and place a Yoga Tune Up Ball or MWOD Foot Roller under your left foot
- Slowly roll your foot over the ball or roller
- Work backwards from your forefoot to heel
- Switch sides
Heel Cord and Calf Smash
- Sit on the ground and place a roller behind your left calf, just above the heel bone
- Pull your foot up toward you and then push it away from you. You can also circle your foot and increase the pressure by placing your right leg over the left.
- Every minute or so, move the roller further up your calf, until you end up at the top of the gastrocnemius (the big muscle at the top of the calf)
- Switch sides
Posterior Tibialis Tamer
- Sit on the ground
- Place a lacrosse ball on the inside of your left heel
- Slowly roll the ball back and forth with your hand
- Work up the inside of the calf until you’re just below the knee
- Switch sides
- Kneel down on the ground, with your torso upright
- Sit back onto your heels
- Your hamstrings and calves should touch, and the instep of both feet should comfortably touch the ground. Camping out for a few minutes a day in this position will not only feed slack into the fascia and musculature of the feet and ankles, but also help relieve soreness in your quads.
- Sit down on the ground with your shoes and socks off
- Take a soft mobility ball and place it in front of the ankle bone on the outside of your foot (aka lateral malleolus), while placing your knee on the ground
- Use one hand to pin the forefoot and push down with the other on the inside of the heel, as if driving it to the floor. Do at least 2 minutes on each side and then repeat on the other foot.
- If the skin on the inside of the ankle is tacked down, use the ball to twist the skin and then give it a whack. Repeat for 2 minutes.
- The test/re-test for this is to go into a deep squat and see how much more motion you have in the ankle, and how much easier it is to keep your big toe on the ground