Running Series: 5 Tips To Help With Plantar Fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common and nagging orthopedic injuries in the foot. It’s estimated that approximately 2 million people in the U.S. experience this specific injury each year. It occurs in runners, but can also be seen in anyone that spends a lot of time on their feet (walkers, hikers, etc).

The plantar fascia is a connective sheet (known as fascia) that covers the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. It helps maintain the arch (more specifically, the medial longitudinal arch) of the foot when involved in weight bearing activities such as walking and/or running.


Plantar Fasciitis: What Is It?

This is the big question. First, it is not “inflammation” of the fascia. That is a common misconception due to the term “itis” at the end; however, the amount of inflammation that actually occurs is minimal.

In actuality, it is degeneration of the tissue. Don’t be alarmed! Plantar Fasciitis is also said to be similar to a tendinopathy and we know that this responds very well to load (more on that further down). The degeneration likely occurs due to repetitive traumas from excessive traction or loading forces.

Common symptoms include: pain in the bottom of your foot on the medial (inside) side or near your heel; pain in the morning with your first few steps; and pain or tenderness with barefoot walking.

What Can You Do?

Soft Tissue Work

The video shows three variations of soft tissue work you can do over your plantar fascia utilizing a lacrosse ball (tennis ball works just as well). If standing is too intense, you can start in a seated position.

Great Toe Mobility

Great toe mobility is extremely important! In a previous post we touched on how gravity and ground reaction force are actually the drivers when you walk/run and the importance of proper mobility throughout the kinetic chain. One bad chain causes a domino effect throughout the entire body.

If you are lacking mobility at your great toe (specifically extension – moving your big toe towards your shin) you are at risk of not only plantar fasciitis, but issues all the way up the chain. We believe improving your big toe mobility (along with proper loading) is a great way to manage your plantar fasciitis.

A good range to aim for initially is 60 degrees of big toe extension. However, for proper mechanics, 80-90 degrees is truly desired.

Foot Doming

Intrinsic muscles of the foot are important for supporting the arch, controlling foot motion, for stability/balance, and they create a rigid base during certain phases of running.

Foot doming helps to activate these often forgotten muscles of the foot. Listen to the video for the proper cues to ensure you’re doing this with good form! Proper form with this exercise is vital!

Eccentric Calf Raise + Great Toe Extension

Following mobility exercises with load helps that new motion “stick.” These loading exercises allow the tissue to work within the new range of motion, while also improving its overall strength.

  1. Similar to the video above, fold a towel and place on a step, or any elevated surface, directly under your great toe. This enhances the extension at your great toe, while also adding load.
  2. Start in a neutral position. Perform the concentric phase (moving up on to the toes), taking a total of 3 seconds. Hold at the top for 2 seconds. Then perform the eccentric phase (moving down) for 3 seconds. Be sure to move through the entire available range.

Do not rush through this movement (especially the eccentric portion).

Lateral Step Downs

This is great because it not only works on the strength of the foot, but also incorporates glute strength and overall stability.

  1. Again, find an elevated surface and something to hold your balance, if necessary. 
  2. Stand on one leg. From there, perform the foot doming exercise on the foot that is on the stable surface.
  3. Perform the eccentric motion for 3 seconds, tap your heel to the ground, and then the concentric portion for 3 seconds.
  4. Be sure to hinge at the hips to load the foot and the glutes – avoid putting the force through your knees.

Looking For More Help?

*This is helpful information, but it is general information. This is NOT medical advice. If you already have any injury, pain, tightness, etc., please seek help from a licensed and qualified healthcare provider like us, performance physical therapy in Green Bay. A complete solution for what you’re dealing with needs to be customized to all the different factors driving your pain, and those factors will be at least slightly different for each person. These strategies may help, but they’re not likely to be a complete solution for each individual reading this now or in the future.