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Plantar Fascia Stretches For Heel Pain

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A 2006 study from the University of Rochester found that specific plantar fascia stretching exercises helped to improve pain and function in people suffering with chronic plantar fasciitis. These plantar fasiciitis stretches for heel pain were found to be more effective than the traditionally recommended achilles tendon or calf muscle stretches.

The study took patients that had been suffering with chronic plantar fasciitis for longer than ten months and divided them into two groups. The first group was instructed on a traditional Achilles’ tendon stretching protocol where they would stretch the heel and Achilles’ tendon for a total of ten 10-second repetitions three times a day. The second group was instructed on a non-weight bearing plantar fascia stretch where the patients dorsiflexed the toes until the plantar fascia was tight, and then performed a cross-friction massage on the plantar fascia.

After 8 weeks, both groups of patients were questioned on changes in their plantar fascia pain. The group of patients that performed the plantar fascia cross-friction massage had better improvement of their heel pain compared to the group that performed the traditional Achilles’ tendon stretches. After 8 weeks, the Achilles’ tendon stretching group was instructed on how to perform the cross-friction massage technique and both patient groups were then followed for the next two years.

The researchers found that both the original cross-friction foot massage and the Achilles’ tendon stretching group that subsequently performed the plantar fascia cross-friction massage group continued to have improvement and lessening of their heel pain. In fact, most of the patients reported that they had the most significant improvement of their heel and plantar fascia pain within the first six months of starting the exercises.

Here are some helpful videos we have found showing how to do cross-friction massage of the plantar fascia:

The first video doesn’t show the cross-friction massage until halfway thru the video, but it does show a few different techniques, so well worth watching.

 

The second video also demonstrates some massage and myofascial release techniques for the calf muscles as well:

 

If this helped you, leave a comment below and let us know!

Reference

DiGiovanni BF, Nawoczenski DA, et al, “Plantar Fascia-Specific Stretching Exercises Improves Outcomes In Patients With Chronic Plantar Fasciitis”, JBJS, Vol 88-A, 8, 2006:1775-81

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