Plantar fasciitis is a condition that will ultimately affect 1 in 10 people during their lifetime. While the condition can be especially bothersome for professional athletes, the rest of us aren’t immune to the many physical stressors we face in everyday life.
While there are many treatments, it’s often a long-term battle.
In this article, we’ll show you step by step how to heal your pain at home with a plantar fasciitis massage.
How massage can help plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the more common causes of heel pain. Plantar fasciitis occurs due to inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the bottom of your foot known as the plantar fascia and frequently involves pain in the arch or heel of your foot and many times both.
Thankfully, massage done consistently has been proven to help relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. A study by SA Health found that “cross friction massage of the plantar fascia and stretching of the gastrocsoleus complex showed the greatest overall improvement in terms of reducing the pain and disability.”
For best results, it’s recommended to massage your feet twice a day, but one massage is better than none. That said, the best massage routines aren’t massage alone, and podiatrists agree—stretching in addition to your massage routine can help further reduce pain and improve overall mobility.
As Doug Nelson, licensed massage therapist in Champaign, Illinois, and founder/president of Precision NMT seminars told AMTA Massage, “Your goal is to soften and shorten the plantar fascia to increase blood flow to the area. If you can increase the flow of nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood, you’re creating a healthy environment to slow or even stop tissue degradation. Overly aggressive treatment and stretching can potentially undermine this goal.“
Just as you need to go to the gym and eat healthy more than once to start seeing results, regular massage is crucial for best results. The good news is, more and more research shows that trigger point release massage for plantar fasciitis is well worth the effort.
6 massages, for healing plantar fasciitis pain at home
Here are 6 massages you can do at home.
1. Massage and stretch in the morning
While doing any massages or stretching is better than not doing anything at all, physical therapists Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck recommend you work on your plantar fasciitis pain right when you wake up.
For those who have plantar fasciitis, the morning is often the time when you’re most stiff and have the highest degree of pain. Plantar fasciitis massage techniques done in the morning can help alleviate your discomfort more effectively and get you ready to tackle the day.
2. Thumb presses
One of the easier massages to perform, thumb presses are an excellent way to relieve pain caused by plantar fasciitis.
- While sitting down, bend your legs, bringing your feet within reach of your hands.
- Starting on the side closest to your big toe, apply pressure from the heel all the way up to your toe with your thumbs in a straight line. Apply just enough pressure to where you ‘feel it’ but not so much to where it hurts.
- Once you’ve reached your big toe, return to the top of your heel and repeat the process for each of your remaining toes.
3. Thumb pulls
Similar to thumb presses, thumb pulls can help further reduce tension in your foot.
- Sitting in a similar position as you did for thumb presses, for this massage, you’ll use your thumbs to massage your foot in an outward direction.
- Starting in the middle of your foot, put both thumbs together right above your heel.
- Move your thumbs outward from the middle of your foot to the side like you would when opening a bag of chips.
- Continue moving up your foot while performing multiple thumb pulls.
- Perform thumb pulls all the way up your foot and repeat for 2-3 minutes.
4. Toe pull stretch
Especially when done in the morning, this stretch will help loosen up your foot and decrease pain throughout the day.
- Sit down with both feet extended, as shown below.
- Grab your toes and pull them towards your body, holding for 5-10 seconds each time.
- If you cannot reach your toes with your legs fully extended, feel free to adjust your leg positioning so that you can comfortably pull your toes towards you with minimal pain.
5. Use the scraping technique for the perfect foot massage
If you’re looking to supercharge your massage efforts for plantar fasciitis using a muscle scraper, the Eclipse from Sidekick can help further aid in recovery.
As we previously shared here on the Sidekick blog, “recovery tools are seen as an upgrade from traditional massage because their unique designs provide myofascial release that cannot be seen without tools or through normal stretching alone.“
Scraping tools provide localized pressure in the desired area to help increase blood flow and oxygen for recovery in ways other recovery tools can’t provide. For this reason, you’ll often see petechiae (bright red spots) form when scraping. Thankfully, these subside quickly and don’t hurt. In short, scraping tools take your massage efforts to the next level.
- Apply a small amount of massage oil to your foot.
- Next using your scraping tool of choice to move up and down your foot vertically.
- Perform this motion for 20-30 seconds.
- For any areas you find particularly tense or sore, you can hone in on these areas for a little longer.
6. Ice and heat massage
Both ice and heat therapy have also been proven to help alleviate symptoms of plantar fasciitis. There is a catch, however. Heat, in some cases, may aggravate the pain for some. In this case, experiment with both ice and heat massage to determine which type of massage is most beneficial for you.
- Sit down comfortably in a chair with your bare feet touching the floor.
- Place an iced or heated roller ball under your feet.
- Move your foot back and forth for 30-60 seconds, applying just enough pressure to where the movement is not overly uncomfortable.
- You can do ice and heat massage separately or together while determining which process is most effective for your specific situation.
Finding relief for plantar fasciitis with massage
While having access to massage therapists to aid in recovery can be helpful, the reality is, it’s not always affordable or convenient. We believe in taking control of your recovery as much as possible. By incorporating several of the massage recommendations above, you can help relieve your pain caused by plantar fasciitis at home and tackle your physically demanding day.
Ultimately, massage is a great way to help manage your pain in conjunction with other treatment options. If you’re looking for more treatment options, make sure to check out our post on the best tools for plantar fasciitis for maximum relief. Plantar fasciitis can be frustrating, but know that lots of people have conquered it and you can too.
Got a massage technique that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
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