Pain on the Bottom of Your Foot >> Helpful Tips, Exercises and Stretches

The foot is the basis of almost every movement of the body: when we run, the foot’s job is to absorb the impact of our body weight and transform this energy into forward propulsion. This complex process requires 28 bones, 31 joints and 23 muscles working in perfect harmony. If something isn’t functioning properly or is out of sync, this can lead to overuse injuries. One common problem that often takes the fun out of running is plantar fasciitis.

A woman is stretching in the gym

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar tendon which runs from your heel to your toes. This tendon plays a major role in running: when your foot makes contact with the ground, the tendon provides your foot with stability and control. Without the flexibility of the plantar tendon, our body wouldn’t be able to transform the force of our body weight into forward propulsion.

If the foot strikes the ground with too much force, this can overstretch the plantar tendon and cause tiny tears in the tissue, which leads to inflammation. After the tears heal, these micro-injuries leave behind scars that can limit the flexibility of the plantar tendon and thus lead to performance problems.

Plantar fasciitis often develops slowly over time. At first, you only experience slight heel pain when you run, but later on, it becomes a stabbing pain even when you are at rest. The healing process usually lasts somewhere between six weeks and a year.

5 useful tips for preventing foot pain

  1. Increase your mileage and intensity slowly and steadily. This is the only way your body can get used to the increased demands and make the necessary structural changes in your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments.
  2. Schedule time for recovery. Give your body the chance to recover from the training sessions. If you don’t, you run the risk of overtraining. Tip: make sure to take a rest day between every two or three workouts.
  3. Wear the right running shoes. Damaged running shoes (loose seams or soles) can cause injuries. You should also track the kilometers you run with the Runtastic app – after about 500 km, it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
  4. Stretch before you run. Both your feet and your calves tend to be tight (for example, from sitting all day). Stretching can help you loosen them up.
  5. Work on coordination and foot stability. When you run, your foot is constantly under demand and should balance out the unevenness of the surface during the stance phase.

Exercises and stretches to help with foot pain

1. Stretching to improve the flexibility of your calves, ankles and the soles of your feet

How to do the exercise:
Assume a push-up position. Then walk your feet forward toward your hands. Make sure that your heels are touching the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Do this strengthening exercise five times a day for 30 seconds.

A woman stretching in the gym

2. Exercise to increase the muscular control of your ankles and the soles of your feet

How to do the exercise:
Stand on one leg and cross your arms in front of your chest. Turn your upper body to the left and then to the right. Keep your ankle straight and flex the arch of your foot. Do this exercise three times a day for one minute on each side.

A woman stretching in the gym

Do you suffer from foot pain?

Here are five tips to speed up your recovery and have you lacing up your shoes in no time.

1. Stop your running training immediately. Your foot needs rest to let the injury heal. Any additional stress will delay the healing process.

2. Roll out the tension in your foot. Reduce the muscle tension in your foot by rolling out the soles of your feet with a small ball for two or three minutes a day. But be careful: do not roll directly on the area that you feel pain.

A woman is rolling her foot on a tennis ball

How to do the exercise:
Roll out the soles of your feet slowly with the ball. Increase the pressure on the sensitive areas for about 60 seconds.

3. Stretch the soles of your feet regularly. It is important to keep the soles of your feet flexible, even during the acute stage of pain. Do the following stretch two or three times a day:

How to do the stretch:

Place your toes on the floor and slowly sit back on your heels. Keep your upper body straight and upright. Hold the stretch for about 60 seconds.

A woman is stretching in the gym

A woman is stretching in the gym

4. Strengthen your shin muscles. Strong shin muscles relieve the pressure on your calves and reduce the tension in the soles of your feet. Do the following exercise three times a day for 45 seconds per leg:

How to do the exercise:
Pull a resistance band towards you using your toes. Flex your foot, hold the position and then straighten your foot again.

A woman is stretching in the gym with a resistance band

A close-up of a woman stretching her foot with a resistance band

5. Work on your running technique. Good running form is characterized by a natural rollover of the foot and short ground contact. This helps to relieve stress on the arch of the foot.

“After your foot injury heals, start back by working on your running technique,” recommends running expert Sascha Wingenfeld. “The only way to avoid re-injuring yourself is by improving your running form.”

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Sascha Wingenfeld Sascha, health trainer & active triathlete, has been coaching runners from beginners to professionals for over 10 years. "I love my job and I love running." View all posts by Sascha Wingenfeld »

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