plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis 101 and FIVE Plantar Fasciitis Exercises Prescribed by an Foot Expert

Having pain or discomfort to your feet is the worst!  You walk on your feet daily.  Every step you take reminds you of your heel pain.  As we have helped 100’s of people dealing with plantar fasciitis since 2004, we will give you five of our favorite plantar fasciitis exercises that we prescribe often.  

Although the best approach is done with a protocol that matches based on the results of an evaluation, you will find our exercise valuable in getting the first pep in your step.

1. What is Plantar fasciitis?

The bottom of your foot has a connective tissue called plantar fascia. It starts from a boney bump on the bottom of your heel bone called calcaneus tubercle. Your plantar fascia spread to the beginning of each toe joint called metatarsal heads.

The role of your plantar fascia is to help transfer and spread the load from your heel towards your toes. There is a big muscular connection of your plantar fascia to your big toe.

We hope to remind you of the relationship of walking from heel to big toe. Your plantar fascia helps to distribute the load evenly and allow your muscles to further support your gait. If you walk with your feet turned inwards or outwards, you lose a huge functionality of your plantar fascia to protect your feet. You strain the plantar fascia.

If you change your gait, you will help your plantar fascia to heal. You will need to calm the symptoms, then support your ability to walk well for lasting relief. Fortunately if you have only tried ankle and feet care, there are much more options than you can imagine. The act of walking requires the movement of your whole body: spine, arms and legs.

Many associate plantar fasciitis with a bone spur that is situated where the plantar fascia connects to your heel bone. Bone spur can develop anywhere in your body, from your spine to your shoulder joint, as a result from repeated pulling tension. We find it as a means to bear more load when your muscles are not playing its part in providing stability.

2. How do you know if you have Plantar Fasciitis?

There is one very accurate test that can help you know if you DO NOT have plantar fasciitis. If you have tenderness at the place where the plantar fascia originates.

White domestic goose and duck isolated on white background

If your pain is not in the region of where the plantar fascia originates, you have a high chance that you do not have plantar fasciitis. This is very crucial to understand and many practitioners underestimate. If it sounds like a duck and looks like a duck, it may not be a duck. If it does not feel like a duck, then you cannot say it is a duck.

To save time, many practitioner may not touch your heel and prescribe treatment simply because it sounds and looks like plantar fasciitis. It does take time to take off your shoes and socks.

So how does plantar fasciitis look and sound like?

  • Your heel pain is worse with the first step in the morning. It gets better as you begin to move about your day, but gets worse towards the end of the day.
  • The classic words to describe your heel pain is “sharp” and “stabbing” and hence the common sense to believe that it is a bone spur that is the source of your pain.
  • Your heel is swollen and feels inflammed.

You maybe like the many people we see with recurrent plantar fasciitis and have pain around your heel, arch, and ankle. Unfortunately, this makes things still clear as mud. The good news is that if you do or do not have heel tenderness, this article can still help you. We will teach you the WHY.


Why? Having tenderness or not does not tell your practitioner HOW you got plantar fasciitis in the first place. We can helped 100’s of cases of unresolved and recurrent people with plantar fasciitis. You have to treat the WHY.

Your Foot doctor may inject directly to your plantar fascia to help your pain. If you get relief, then the assumption is that you have plantar fasciitis. When your pain is recurrent, then treating the WHAT does not matter.

If we are correct, we understand that your main goal is to get rid of your heel pain, not to just know what you have. Whether it is a duck, goose, or any type of bird, the important part is if you can tame it or not. Right now, you have an untamed bird on your hand, or feet to be more accurate. WHY is your answer.

3. What are two things that your Podiatrist or physical therapist might not know or share to you?

There are two things that you need to know about your plantar fasciitis.

  • A healthy plantar fascia needs a healthy walking pattern.
  • You have to address both legs, pelvis and spine to have full resolution of pain.

The body works together. Walking requires all muscles to work in coordination with each other. Your plantar fascia helps to bear your weight and transfer your walking stress from your heel towards your big toe. Your small toes help to fine tune and adapt to the terrain you are walking on.

If you believe in the idea of kinetic chain movement and the idea that your whole body needs to work together to move, you need to address all flexibility, mobility and weakness that is causing the tension to build-up at your heel and foot.

-Dr Danh Ngo

We have a slogan that goes by the statement of “Never chase the pain. Find the source and treat the source.” If you limp or alter your gait due to pain, both legs are not moving optimally.

We have to think of “load tension” when it comes to plantar fasciitis. That is what is causing the bone spur or not. Your bone spur may even shrink over a long period of years when you develop a healthier walking pattern!

Here is a short list of things your Podiatrist or Feet Specialist Physical Therapist may have overlooked if they are thinking of ducks only.

Sciatic nerve at hip to its branches down to your foot
  • You have a past hip or knee injury that went away shortly. Remember to think of what has happened to your non-painful leg too. You can compensate and your painful leg is the one that is working too hard now.
  • You had or currently have sciatica. Your sciatic nerve branches down to your heel. Again, a history of sciatica to your non-painful side can cause sub-conscious habit of placing more weight to your painful side now.
  • Your legs fall asleep, becomes tingly, when you sit at times.
  • History of twisting your ankles in the past and it resolved.
  • You have a dysfunction to your big toe, painful side or non-painful side, where it bends inwards or stiff in bending upwards.
  • High heels are your shoe of preferences, which disengages your calves to assist with load your weight.
  • You have tight hamstrings or lower back, thus you cannot touch your toes.
  • You walk with your feet splay outwards or inwards.

Orthopedic Physical Therapist Specialists are mechanics of the human body. We focus on addressing any mechanical limitations and use a precise form of exercise prescription to ensure you know how to manage kinetic chain forces well. The categories of human movement include mobility, stability, strength, coordination, endurance, reactive control, and power/explosiveness.

You can have a foot dysfunction or plantar fasciitis if your lifestyle requires a mixture of a certain human movement capability but you are not training in that certain mixture.

Dr Danh Ngo, Foot Rehab and Sports Medicine Specialist

4. Five commonly prescribed Plantar Fasciitis exercises and what to do if they do not work?

The 5 exercises program is design to help you regain mobility and strength to support walking. We move in 3-dimensions. There are 4 planes that we need to support: front, back, side, and rotation. The last thing to help support is your ability to resist gravity or vertical load.

plantar fasciitis
Click on the picture to watch the videos of the 5 exercises

We primarily help people who had standard plantar fasciitis care without long-term success so we decided to emphasize these 5 exercises. Click on this link here if you have never had anyone prescribed you self-care that is specifically for the ankle itself. You might be surprise if our 5 exercises will help you to walk easier, without addressing your plantar fascia directly.

If you are interested in 10 additional exercises (video and written instructions), fill out the short form below. The 10 additional exercises will include regressive and progressive exercises to the 5 exercises listed in this article. It will include soft tissue or mobility exercises to support the 5 exercises in this article.



A. Downward facing dog (Sports Medicine format, not yoga-form)

Get into a push-up position. Hands are wider than your shoulder width by a few inches. Using your hands and push your hips up towards the ceiling.

Slowly drop your heels down towards the ground. Feet straight and hips width apart. Gently bend one knee. Alternate. Repeat this for 5 reps. End with a focus on having both knees as straight as possible.

Breath and hold for a count of 20-30 seconds. Repeat 5 reps. Perform daily for 4-6 weeks.

B. Bridging.

Lay on your back on a flat and firm surface. Raise your hips and chest up towards the ceiling. Make sure your elbows, wrist, and hands are flat on the table and tuck closely towards your trunk.

Flex and contract your gluteals or buttock region so you can emphasize supporting your Sacroiliac with the strongest muscles that surrounds the back side of your Sacroiliac joint region.

You should feel your glutes working only. If you do not feel your glutes working, you may need to regress to progress.

Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for 5 reps. Do daily for 4 weeks.

C. Active Straight Leg Lift

Lay on your back on a flat and firm surface. While keeping both legs and knees firm. Raise your legs up to a vertical position. If you cannot reach this height, remain focus on keeping a straight leg. You will get there with time and practice.

If you happen to feel your groin or front thighs tensing instead of your abdominals, brace your abdominals muscles. Practice timing your leg raise with a prolong exhalation.

You should feel your abdominals working only and never tension to your groin or front thighs. If you do not feel your abdominals, you may need to regress to progress.

Repeat for 10 reps and 2 sets.

D. Table assisted elbow to elbow tap.

Place your hands on a firmly secured that is about the height of your thighs. Keep your spine firm and straight. Tense up the back of both thighs.

Alternately, touch your elbows with one hand. Switch. Perform 20 reps. Make sure you try not to rock side to side or twist. This is important for your Sacroiliac Joint stability.

If you notice that you keep swaying or rocking, you may benefit from out additional 10 exercises comprehensive approach.

Perform 2 sets. Do daily for 4 weeks.

E. 1/2 Kneel.

Kneel down and support your knees with a sofa cushion or a few thick blankets. Bring one leg forward. Make sure both feet are aligned straight. This is important, but work your way towards this ideal if you have discomfort. Raise both arms up high if you have good balance. Practice safely and use your best judgment.

If you are not swaying and you are practicing with good judgement, close your eyes. Practice improving your single leg balance.

Spend 2-3 minutes working each leg. Do daily for 4 weeks. This is one of the most important exercise out of the five.

If you notice that you keep swaying or rocking, you may benefit from out additional 10 exercises comprehensive approach.

Enjoy and practice daily with our suggested protocol.

If you desire a more elaborate 10 plantar fasciitis exercises (videos and written instructions) and self care, please fill out the form below. If you are in need of immediate Specialist in Plantar Fasciitis AND live in the surrounding city of Long Beach, California, get a FREE consult with Dr Danh Ngo.


He is in the 1% of Physical Therapist with TWO SPECIALTY: Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. Click on the Blue button for your special chat and time with Dr Danh Ngo.


Danh Ngo PT, DPT, OCS, SCS

Feet and Sports Medicine Expert

ReVITALize Rehab Club



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