Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the sole of the foot. People can use stretching exercises and self-massage to relieve pain and inflammation.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed. It can cause pain in the heel or arch of the foot. The condition is particularly common among runners.

Doctors may recommend conservative treatment, such as plantar fasciitis massage and stretching, before turning to more significant treatment measures.

Massage can help stretch the plantar fascia and increase blood flow to the area, which can promote healing. People can also use simple stretches to treat the condition at home.

Read on to learn about how to perform plantar fasciitis self-massage, stretches, massage strategies, and more.

A person performing a self foot massage.Share on Pinterest
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Stretching the plantar fascia is effective for reducing heel pain. A person can facilitate stretching by gently massaging the foot.

To massage the foot, a person can follow these steps:

  1. Begin by rubbing the ball of the foot and the base of the toes in a circular motion.
  2. Use both hands to massage the arch of the foot, using circular or back-and-forth motions.
  3. Use the heel of the hand to apply pressure to the sole of the foot while stroking up and down.
  4. Press the thumbs along the length of the sole, from the heel to the toes and back.
  5. Gently pull each toe, starting with the big toe, away from the foot.
  6. Finish by rubbing the heel in a circular motion.

Plantar fasciitis massage can be painful, so it is important that the person goes slowly and stops massaging if the pain becomes too intense. Massage can make a person’s foot feel sore or tender, but it should not cause significant pain.

For best results, a person should massage their feet several times a day for at least 6 weeks.

They can also add stretching to their routine. Useful stretches include the gastrocnemius muscle stretch and soleus muscle stretch:

A person doing a standing soleus stretch.
Dima Bazak

Gastrocnemius muscle stretch

Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart and hands on a wall for support. Then, take the affected leg backward, keeping both heels on the floor and feeling the stretch in the sole.

Soleus muscle stretch

A person performing a calf stretch.
Dima Bazak

This is similar to the gastrocnemius stretch, but it does not require the person to take their leg as far back. Instead, keep the rear heel on the floor and bend the front knee until it causes a stretch in the arch of the foot.

Read more about stretches for plantar fasciitis.

A person does not need any special equipment to perform at-home foot massages. However, some people may find that using tools like a tennis ball or rolling pin can help reach all areas of the foot more easily.

To use a tennis ball, place the ball under the arch of the foot and gently roll it back and forth. Likewise, to use a rolling pin, roll the foot over it from heel to toe.

Cross-friction massage is an effective form of massage for plantar fasciitis.

During this procedure, a massage therapist does not use lubricant, so the fingers massaging the foot do not slide across the skin. Instead, it takes the skin with it, allowing the force to transfer to the deep tissue.

The foot is dorsiflexed, which means the toes are pointing up toward the shin. The therapist then uses their finger pads to massage in a back-and-forth motion across the grain of the tissue, going from the heel toward the toes.

This type of massage is usually done with deep pressure over short periods of time.

There are very few risks associated with plantar fasciitis massage when done correctly.

However, if a person massages aggressively when the fascia is inflamed, the sole of the foot can become sensitive. This may make the pain even worse.

It is important to go slowly and stop if the pain becomes too intense. Wait until any swelling, redness, or bruising has resolved before massaging the foot.

People should also try to massage when pain levels are relatively low. For example, a person may notice that their heel pain is most intense when they first get out of bed in the morning. Therefore, they may find it helpful to massage their feet before attempting to stand in the morning.

It may also help to take a hot bath or shower to relax and warm up the tissues first.

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that often improves with home treatment and rest. However, some people may experience persistent heel pain that does not respond to self-care measures.

In these cases, it is important to contact a doctor for further evaluation and treatment. Additionally, people should visit a doctor if they experience intense heel pain that prevents them from walking or doing everyday tasks.

Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition affecting the bottom of the foot and heel. Self-massage and stretching are simple home remedies that can reduce pain and promote healing.

A person can perform self-massage at home using their hands or simple tools, such as a tennis ball or rolling pin.