I'm a Yoga Instructor, and These 5 Stretches Relieved My Plantar Fasciitis Pain From Running
I dealt with the pain of plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament that runs from the toe to the heel, causing pain and stifness, back in the spring of 2019 when the warmer weather inspired me to start running more. The physical therapist I saw recommended some exercises to help heal, but to be honest, they didn't work. The only thing that helped was taking a break from any type of running or jumping in my CrossFit classes.
Fast forward to spring 2020 and when my CrossFit gym had to close because of the pandemic, the warmer weather once again inspired me to run outside — it was essential for my mental health. I knew I had to take it slow in order to prevent my plantar fasciitis from flaring up, but unfortunately after that first week, I was back in pain, and even walking from the bed to the bathroom was excruciating.
As a yoga instructor, I knew thorough and consistent (that was the key!) stretching would help relieve the pain, so I made a point to take a few minutes after every run to do these five poses — and they weren't just for my feet! That's because Erin Adams, DPT, physical therapist and certified manual trigger-point therapist from Fit 2 Perform said, "Stretching is very important in the healing process, and not just stretching the area of pain. Because, in fact, sometimes stretching the bottom of the foot in the initial acute stages could actually exacerbate the pain. You must stretch and open up the whole leg chain: toes, foot, ankle, lower leg, and even the hip."
Adams recommended these stretches be done multiple times a day and held for shorter, more manageable amounts of time to avoid causing more trauma to the area. For example, do three sets of 20-second holds in the beginning stages of injury before progressing to tolerating one- or even two-minute holds weeks or months later when the pain has lessened. To be honest, I only did these once a day after running, and sometimes before bed if I felt especially tight.
Six months later, I've been running five to seven miles, four to five days a week, and I have very minimal pain thanks to these five stretches. If you suffer from this common running injury, don't poo-poo stretching! It worked for me, and I'm so grateful I can still run. If your plantar fasciitis is causing you pain and running isn't possible, Adams suggested meeting with an experienced physical therapist to get help.