The 5 Minute Morning Protocol for Heel Pain - Plantar Fasciitis

Almost without exception, everyone I see with heel pain due to plantar fasciitis will have ‘first step’ pain when getting up in the morning or when getting up after being seated for a while. Often the pain is so unbearable at heel contact it leads to an altered gait pattern such as forefoot walking or walking on the outside of the foot for a few minutes until it ‘warms up’. This is not a good long term strategy to avoid pain! I have a lot of plantar fasciitis sufferers come and see me for treatment after they’ve started to develop a new pain in their foot from limping to avoid the original pain! So, it’s important to eliminate ‘first step’ heel pain altogether as soon as possible.

As part of the management of Plantar Fasciitis, I recommend a quick 5 minute morning routine as described below - Roll, Stretch and Support before taking that first step:

Plan ahead! What you need by your bed:

  • A tennis ball or small massage ball.

  • A towel

  • Running shoes or orthotic/support thongs

Roll - once you wake, sit on the edge of the bed, place the arch of your injured foot on the ball and start rolling.

  • DON’T roll over the painful heel area.

  • Roll from just in front of the heel to just behind the forefoot. Focus your rolling over any tight areas. Most people describe it as a ‘good pain’ when releasing a tight or over worked muscle in the arch of the foot.

  • Roll for 3 minutes, start lightly and apply firmer pressure as you go.

  • The aim is to loosen the mid-portion of the fascia and ‘wake up’ the intrinsic muscles in the sole of the foot that help stabilise the arch when weight baring.

Stretch – hold one end of the towel in each hand and loop the towel over the forefoot and toes.

  • Pull back until you feel a light stretch in the calf and/or sole of the foot - hold for 3x30 seconds. Have a 10 second break between stretches or do alternate legs. <