Best Yoga Stretches for Plantar Fasciitis

Can yoga cure plantar fasciitis?

Cure is a strong word. It definitely helps.

Here’s how:

These yoga stretches and positions focus on releasing the bodies energy in the joints and feet, letting go of stress and natural toxins in these areas. Yoga is safe and effective for relieving pain in the heels. These stretches, postures and exercises can not only help relieve the pain of Plantar Fasciitis they can prevent the condition from even getting started.

If you are planning an activity that will increase the impact on your feet, try doing a few of the yoga exercises before your start.

Warm-Up Stretches

There are several yoga exercises that you can do to relieve the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. Some of the exercises that can help you get warmed-up for more advanced postures include:

  • Basic seated position – Sit on the edge of the chair, with your back straight, chest out, and feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be directly over your ankles. Breathe in and out gently.
  • Basic standing posture – Stand up straight, with your feet hip width apart Point your toes forward, chest out, shoulders back. Look straight ahead. Your head should be lifted, neck and spine straight. Breathe in and out gently.
  • Seated straight leg foot and ankle exercises – Seated on the edge of the chair, extend your legs straight in front of you, with your heels on the floor. Wiggle your toes. Then flex and extend both feet, moving your toes toward you, then away from you. Now move your feet in a circling motion, first one way and then the other way.
  • Seated hamstring stretch – In a seated position on the edge of the chair, extend your legs out with your toes pointing up. With your back straight, gently lean forward until you feel the back of your legs being stretched. Hold this position while taking deep breathes. This loosens muscles and stretches tissue behind legs.
  • Prancing feet – This helps to build flexibility in your feet and build strength in the arches. From a standing position, lift your right heel and roll onto your toes. Gently place heel back on ground. Repeat this with your left foot. Continue this, alternating feet.

The Garland Pose

The Garland Pose - Side on
The Garland Pose – Side on

After getting warmed-up you can move on to some more advanced yoga positions. One of the best stretches for further relieve for the pain from Plantar Fasciitis is the Garland Pose. It involves:

  1. Squat with your feet as close together as possible. If you can, let your heels rest flat on the floor. If this is not possible, put a rolled-up mat or towel under them.
  2. Open your knees, slightly wider than your body. Putting your hands together, on the inside of your knees (Anjali Mudra), exhale, leaning forward.
  3. Press thighs against torso. Reach arms forward and then back and lock your shins into the armpits. Press your fingers onto the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then inhale, standing upright.

Reclined Leg Stretch

This is a stretching exercise that can also relieve the pain of Plantar Fasciitis. It helps to gently stretch the hamstrings and tissue on the back of the hips, thighs and calves, tugging on the foot when it gets too tight.

To do the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back, keeping your legs together.
  2. Put a strap around the arch of your right foot. Bend the right knee to the chest, holding the strap tightly.
  3. Extend your leg upwards to a straight position. Hold for thirty seconds and release.
  4. Repeat this on the left side.
Reclined Leg Stretch - Step One
Reclined Leg Stretch – Step One
Step Two
Step Two

The Downward Dog Pose

Another more advanced pose that can help relieve the pain of the heel is the Downward Dog pose. It involves forming a table with your body. Your back is the table and your arms and legs are the legs of the table.

To start, get on all fours, breathe out, lifting your hips up., straightening the knees and elbows, forming an upside down V. Toes point straight ahead, hands are shoulder width apart and feet are hip width apart. Hold the position with your head down, take some deep breathes and bend your knees and relax.

Chair Pose

The Chair Pose
The Chair Pose

The chair pose helps alleviate heel pain by stretching the calves and the muscles in the feet, releasing energy. To do the chair pose:

  1. Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
  2. Stretch your arms straight out in front of you, with your palms facing down.
  3. Bend your knees and gently move down so you are in a sitting position, with your back straight.
  4. Keep your hands parallel with the ground, while taking deep breathes.
  5. Go deeper into the position until you are sitting cross-legged. Relax.

Another Simple Yoga Position for Relief

This exercise relieves tension from the hips, which may be causing the movement of the legs muscles tension. The tension in the legs increases tension in the plantar fascia. First, lie on your back and bend your knees. Lift the right ankle just above the left knee, flexing your foot. Put your right hand through the space created and grab hold of your left hand. Pull your left leg up off the floor and hold your left foot out. Hold this position for 30 seconds and relax. You can repeat the exercise using the reverse positions for each leg.

Plantar Fasciitis typically occurs when people start a new activity like training for a marathon or starting a dance class or any other activity that involves increasing the use of their feet and ankles. The footwear that is used for these new activities is typically the cause of the condition. It is a pain on the sole of the foot near the heal. The connective tissue that goes from the heel to the base of the toes, becomes inflamed.

Wearing appropriate footwear is a good idea, when exposing your feet to more impact and activity. However, if you end up with a case of heel pain or spurs, these exercises will help get rid of the problem. It may take several rounds of the exercises, however, with each step, you should feel improvement.

Yoga for Pain Relief

If you’d like to know more about yoga for pain relief I can personally recommend the book Yoga for Pain Relief by Kelly McGonigal. We also have a category page here which covers Natural Remedies in further detail such as a recent post about Essential Oils for Pain Relief.

Other Resources

YinYoga – Yin Yoga has a number of great articles on more yoga poses and even a dedicated article about yoga poses for plantar fasciitis

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I am someone who suffered from Plantar Fasciitis off and on for 3 years before my heel pain fully subsided. The following information is based off my own experience and research into what works best for plantar fasciitis.