Exercises for Heel Pain

By Noelle Ihli, medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Heel Pain Stretching and Exercise Guide For Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis compromises the healthy function of the plantar fascia ligament spanning the heel, arch and ball of your foot. Engaging in simple exercises can help improve the strength and stretching ability of this vital ligament. All of the following exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home and involve little or no cost. When used in conjunction with rest, icing and a good orthotic shoe insert, these heel pain exercises can lead to a remarkable reduction in Plantar Fasciitis symptoms.

Heel Pain Exercise #1: The Wall And Book Stretch

How It Works:

Put a phone book or a couple of thick books on the floor about two feet away from a wall. Stand on the books so that your arches are supported but your heels overhang the back edge of the books. With your hands to either side of your face at shoulder width, slowly lean forward so that your hands are supporting your weight against the wall in front of you. Hold this position for fifteen seconds.

After the fifteen seconds are up, straighten your back while still supporting yourself with your hands on the wall. Lift up and down gently on the balls of your feet ten times. Next, change your position so that you are standing on your right foot only. Lean toward the wall, hold fifteen seconds, straighten up and do ten lifts on your right foot only. Finally, switch to your left foot and repeat the exercise.

How It Helps:

This heel pain exercise gently stretches the plantar fascia ligaments, the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles, promoting better elasticity and healing. The Wall Stretch also has the added bonus of helping you build new, strong muscle tissue in your calves.


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Heel Pain Exercise #2: The Water Bottle Stretch

How It Works:

Take a seat in a comfortable chair. Put a water bottle, tennis ball or rolling pin on the floor. Slowly roll the sole of your foot over the object from the ball of your foot to the heel of your foot for about a minute.

If you are suffering from pain in both heels, you can do this stretch on both feet.

How It Helps:

This exercise slowly stretches the plantar fascia ligament. Additionally, if you freeze the water bottle prior to doing this heel pain stretch, you can ice your foot while you exercise to minimize the pain and inflammation that is common in Plantar Fasciitis.

Heel Pain Exercise #3: The Pebble Exercise

How It Works:

Take a seat in a comfortable chair. Place a mug a few inches in front of your feet on the ground. Scatter ten to fifteen pebbles or marbles in front of your feet, within reach.

Using your toes, pick up each pebble or marble and deposit it in the mug. This can take some practice! Be sure you do the exercise with both feet, even if you only have heel pain in one of them. Engage in this exercise three times a week for five to ten minutes. As you become more skilled and your feet become stronger, increase the frequency and length of the exercise.

How It Helps:

Using your toes to grasp small objects gently pulls on the muscles and ligaments in the soles of your feet, strengthening them over time and helping to prevent the painful symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis.

Heel Pain Exercise #4: The Wall Squat

How It Works:

Stand in front of a wall with your feet together. Put your hands against the wall in front of you at shoulder height and width. Then, re-position your right foot so that it is 4″-5″ closer to the wall than your left foot. Be sure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet.

Slowly squat down approximately 8″ until you feel a good stretch in your calf and heel muscles. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds.

Now, repeat the exercise with your left foot in the forward position.

How It Helps:

This simple, comfortable exercise both stretches and strengthens the muscles in your calves and heels, relieving tautness that can contribute to, or stem from, Plantar Fasciitis.

Heel Pain Exercise #5: The Big Wall Stretch

How It Works:

Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the surface of the wall to support your weight. Take a big step forward with your right foot so that it is now only 2″ from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend it slowly at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds.

Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.

How It Helps:

Plantar Fasciitis can create tightness in the calf muscles. This easy exercise will help loosen your calves and improve heel pain symptoms.

Heel Pain Exercise #6: The Staircase Stretch

How It Works:

Stand on a step with your feet together. The toes and balls of your feet should be supported but your heels should overhang the step. Be sure you are supporting yourself with one hand on a railing or wall. Slowly lift up and down on your toes ten times. Repeat three sets of ten lifts.

A bonus tip is to practice walking on tiptoe around your house.

How It Helps:

Both of these exercises help to strengthen your feet and heels, preventing and healing Plantar Fasciitis.

Heel Pain Exercise #7: Morning Heel Pain Exercises

How It Works:

This is a series of three exercises intended to be performed before you get out of bed in the morning.

First, sit up in bed with your legs together and fully extended in front of you. Slowly point your toes outward and downward ten times.

Next, maintain your sitting position and wrap a belt, scarf or towel around the ball of your right foot, holding the ends of the item in each hand like the reigns of a horse. Sitting up straight, use your arm strength to gently tug the ball of the foot toward your body, flexing the muscle. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds. Be sure you are using the strength of your arms – not your foot – to create the necessary stretch. Then, perform the exercise with your left foot.

Finally, use your thumbs and fingertips to gently massage the sole of your foot for several minutes. This is where your plantar fascia ligament is located and by doing a simple massage, you will warm up the ligament to help it bear your weight when you first get out of bed.

How It Helps:

One of the most common symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis is heel and foot pain upon first stepping out of bed. These exercises warm up the muscles and ligaments of the feet preventing morning heel pain, making your first steps in the morning more comfortable.

Heel Pain Exercise #8: The Plantar Stretch

How It Works:

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right leg at the knee and grasp the ball of your right foot with your hand over the toes. Pull the ball area and toes toward your body and hold for fifteen to twenty seconds. Then, switch to your left foot. Repeat the exercise three times on each foot.

How It Helps:

This exercise loosens and tones the plantar fascia ligament that runs along the sole of your foot. Expect improvements in your heel pain within one week of diligently performing this exercise on a daily basis.

Relief From Heel Pain Is Possible With The Right Combination Of Efforts

Some health conditions require taking medicines with dangerous side effects or undergoing surgery; happily this is seldom the case with Plantar Fasciitis. In most cases, you can take simple, safe, non-invasive steps to improve and resolve your heel pain. Most people will experience relief within just days of treating their Plantar Fasciitis with a combination of rest, icing the plantar fascia, wearing an appropriate orthotic shoe insert and performing easy daily exercises.

Your body is designed to heal itself from common ailments, if you give it the chance. Heel pain stretches help by strengthening and toning the ligaments and muscles that are affected by the inflammation and small tears inherent in Plantar Fasciitis. Be sure you are backing up your time spent exercising the feet with an orthotic designed specifically for Plantar Fasciitis sufferers. HTP Heel Seats feature patented fascia bar technology which applies therapeutic acupressure to the heel bone while gently re-aligning the plantar fascia into a healthy position, helping you heal with every step you take.

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Causes of Heel Pain

Obesity and Heel Pain

Home Remedies HTP Treatments