The plantar fascia is the tendon that runs along the bottom of your foot, from the heel to the front, and supports the arch. Over-stretching or placing too much pressure on the plantar fascia can cause inflammation and thickening of the tendon, resulting in a tight, painful arch and loss of flexibility. Contributing factors include tight calf muscles, high or low arches, wearing shoes with inadequate arch support or repetitive high-impact activity, such as running on a hard surface. Relieve and prevent tight arches by stretching your plantar fascia, calves and heels regularly.
Sit on the floor or in a chair with the foot you want to stretch crossed over the knee of your other leg. Grasp your toes and the ball of your foot with one hand and support your heel with your other hand, then slowly pull your toes back until you feel a slight stretch in your arch. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 20 times on each foot. Perform this stretch in the morning before standing or walking.
Stand facing a wall with the toes of the foot you want to stretch flexed against the wall and the ball of the foot on the floor. Lean slightly towards the wall until you feel a gentle stretch in your arch. Hold the stretch for five seconds, repeat 10 times per foot, and perform the stretch three days a week.
Sit in a chair with the arch of your foot resting on a tennis or golf ball. Roll your foot back and forth over the ball, gradually increasing downwards pressure. Perform the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds per foot, two to three times a day.
Stand facing a wall with your palms pressed against the wall and your toes pointed directly forward. Step the leg you want to stretch back far enough so that your back leg is straight and your front leg is bent at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, slowly lean towards the wall and bend your front leg until you feel a slight stretch in the upper calf of your back leg. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, repeat three to five times per leg, and perform the stretch two to three times a day.
Stand behind a chair or facing a wall and rest your hands on the chair or wall for support. Raise up onto the balls of your feet and hold for five seconds, then slowly lower your heals to the ground. Repeat 10 times and perform the stretch three days a week.
Face a wall with your palms resting against the wall for support and your feet pointed forward. Place the foot of the leg you want to stretch just behind the other, then, keeping both heels on the ground, lean towards the wall slightly and bend both knees until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower calf and heel of your back leg. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, repeat three to five times per leg, and perform the stretch two to three times a day.
Stretch your arches, calves and heels before and/or after a workout. When performing the standing stretches, hold the stretch without bouncing.