Movement Prescription for Plantar Fasciitis & Happy Feet

Dear Movers,

Do you experience pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot when you first get up in the morning? Or when you get up after sitting for a long time? You may have an inflammation or irritation of the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and support your arch.

This condition is called plantar fasciitis. Other symptoms include:

  • Heel pain gets better after a few steps but gets worse as the day progresses.
  • Heel pain increases when you climb stairs or stand on your toes or stand for long periods.
  • Heel pain goes away with exercise but returns when exercise is over.

Why does this painful condition happen? Basically, the bottom of the foot is experiencing extreme stress, which can occur for any number of reasons, some of which contradict each other. Examples include: sitting too much, jogging too much, high arches, and flat arches.

Medical treatments like cortisone shots or orthotics can provide temporary pain relief, but they do not solve the underlying problem.

Here are a few barefoot exercises for the foot that will provide temporary and long-term pain relief from plantar fasciitis. You don’t have to do them all. Pick a few that you like and make them part of your daily routine. These moves are also useful for anyone who wants to start taking better care of their feet, whether or not plantar fasciitis is an issue.

If you experience any pain during these moves, back off, slow down, or stop the move altogether. Moving into pain never creates the results you are looking for.

Lifestyle Changes:

  1. When you walk and stand and sit, keep your feet parallel and pointed forward. Make this a healthy habit.
  2. Align the big toes.
  3. The shoes you are wearing can contribute to plantar fasciitis. Do you wear flip-flops? High heels? Sneakers or sandals that squeeze your toes together or have a lot of height in the heel? Consider switching (gradually) to some kind of minimal shoes that will support the healthy movement of the muscles in your feet and legs. There are many minimal shoes on the market now. I like Lem’s boots and sneakers, but other brands are great too.

Standing or Seated Toe/Footwork

Easy Top of Foot Stretch

  1. Seated or standing, Curl the toes of one foot underneath you and bring the top of that foot forward. Stretch the top of the foot for 60 to 90 seconds.
  2. You may need to put a blanket or a towel between the top of the foot that you are stretching and the floor.
  3. Repeat 3 times and then switch sides.
  4. The plantar fascia will go slack and give you some pain relief.
  5. This is easy to do first thing in the morning.
  6. Explore other times and locations where this easy stretch is readily available to you.

Easy Toe Spread

  1. Stand or sit with feet parallel and about hip width apart.
  2. Spread toes as wide as you can, keeping them flat on the ground.
  3. Create space between each toe.
  4. Repeat as often as you like, with or without shoes, throughout the day.

Easy Big Toe Lift

  1. Stand or sit with feet parallel and about hip width apart.
  2. Keeping all other toes on the floor, lift your big toes off the floor and lower them.
  3. Try to keep the big toes from going sideways as they lift.
  4. If this is difficult to do lift both big toes at once, lift one big toe at a time.
  5. Repeat 6 times.

Short Foot

  1. Seated, with both feet placed flat on the floor and pointing forward.
  2. Raise the arch of your foot by sliding your big toe toward the heel without curling your toes or lifting your heel.
  3. Hold for 6 seconds, then relax and repeat.
  4. Variation: Stand on one leg and create a “short foot.”
  5. Move feet farther away from you or turn foot inward or outward, to work slightly different muscles on the bottom of your feet.

Figure 4 ankle footwork

  1. Sit in a chair in seated good posture, spine straight, sitting on the sitz bones, not the tailbone.
  2. Breath in, Breathe out. Be aware of breath and movement throughout this exercise.
  3. Lift the R knee toward the face, then bring that ankle to rest on the opposite L knee.
  4. Thread the fingers of your L hand between the toes on your R foot
  5. If threading the fingers is too hard, just hold onto the foot.
  6. If threading the fingers is available to you, wiggle your toes with your fingers while you do the following movements.
  7. Use your hand to make 6 ankle circles in one direction and then 6 in the other direction.
  8. Use your hand to flex and point your foot/toes 6 times.
  9. Switch sides and repeat.

Hamstring Stretch

  1. Stand with feet parallel facing forward facing a wall about 2-1/2 or 3 feet from the wall.
  2. Fold at the hips.
  3. Then bring the arms forward and onto the wall.
  4. Make sure that the fold is a hip hinge with no rounding of the spine.
  5. Feel the stretch in the hamstrings and the armpits.
  6. Bend your knees and straighten them several times.

Bonus: Footwork with Props

Consider including these exercises, using props that I have available in my IMF online store at

Calf Stretch on Half Round

I added Half Rounds to my IMF store because they are a great, inexpensive tool for stretching the calves. I have two half rounds dedicated to calf stretches at home. I place one on the floor in front of my kitchen sink and one on the floor in front of my bathroom sink, so I can stretch my calves often. Lay the flat side down on the floor with the rounded surface up.

  1. Place the ball of your foot on the half round, keeping your heel on the floor (if this is too big a stretch, you can place a small towel under your heel).
  2. Hold the stretch for 60 to 90 seconds or more.
  3. Switch sides and repeat.

I use the half round to stretch my calves when am brushing my teeth, putting on make-up, washing dishes or preparing dinner. The calves are always tight and believe it or not tightness in the calves can not only affect the hips and the knees, but also the upper back and posture. Releasing your calves will help release the entire back body line.

Roll Model Therapy Ball Footwork Series

  1. Have one Original or Plus Roll Model Therapy Ball nearby. Or a tennis ball.
  2. Stand comfortably in Good Posture next to a chair, stool, or wall.
  3. Breathe I, Breath out. Watch your breath. Become aware of your body.
  4. Place your hand on the chair, stool, or wall, to help you balance. Start on the left.
  5. ARCHES: Step on top of the ball in the center of your arch. Keep your heel on the ground.
  6. Breathe in. Breathe out. 8 times. Allow your foot to wrap around the top of the ball.
  7. ANKLES: Move your ankle from side to side 8 times, smashing the ball as you move.
  8. HEELS: Roll the ball to the bottom of your heel and lock your toes on the ground. Press into the ball. Then move the ball from side to side briskly for approximately 30 seconds.
  9. MORE ARCHES: Place the therapy ball at the ball of your foot, keep your heel on the floor. Move the foot from side to side across the ball 8 times.
  10. MORE TOES: Squeeze your toes into the ball making a fist with your toes. Then spread and lift all 5 toes away from the ball. Repeat 5 times. Wrap your toes around the ball,
  11. BIG TOE: Move your big toe up & down without moving the other toes for about 10 seconds.
  12. Repeat on the left side.

Summing up and Coming Up

I hope these moves will give you pain relief and create healthier feet and fascia for you.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions, to let me know about your results, or to schedule an appointment to work with me privately.

I invite you to join me to learn more about Intelligent Movement Forever at my Workshop, Creating a Pain-Free Yoga Practice, at Davannayoga, Tuesday, April 11, 4-7pm. This will be my last public event of the season before I leave Puerto Vallarta for Newberg, Oregon. Catch me while you can! Go to my website calendar at

Also noteworthy: I am early in the process of developing a 90-day online course called MoveEasy 101, which will teach my Intelligent Movement Forever approach to moving better. At this stage of the development, it would be very helpful to take to people in my market population who might resonate with the idea and help me with early planning. Contact me at [email protected] if you would be willing to have a 20-minute conversation with me about my ideas and your potential interest in an on-line course like this.

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