If you’ve ever woken up with the telltale pain of plantar fasciitis in your heel, you’re not alone. Whether you’re an athlete, running enthusiast, or someone who spends a lot of time on your feet, plantar fasciitis can be agonizing. It’s also an extremely common condition and will affect 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives.
Chances are, you’ve already tried many of the traditional remedies — icing, resting, and over-the-counter medicine. But what about massage? Does massage help plantar fasciitis?
Keep reading to discover four facts you should know about massage and plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis involves inflammation in the thick foot ligament known as the plantar fascia. This vital ligament supports your foot’s arch and absorbs the shock in every step you take.
Here are some of the most common causes and risk factors of plantar fasciitis, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Using shoes with poor foot support
- Doing athletic activities that include running or jumping, especially if you don’t stretch your calves beforehand
- Having an extremely high arch in your feet
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a lifestyle that involves a lot of standing
4 Facts to Know About Massage for Plantar Fasciitis
So, does massage help plantar fasciitis?
Here are four facts you should know.
1. Massage Has the Power to Soothe Pain
Research shows that massage can help reduce pain levels all throughout the body. Fortunately, you can also reap its pain-relieving benefits in your feet and heels.
The gentle, kneading pressure of foot massage spreads and stretches out the tissue, promoting muscle relaxation and healthy circulation. The physical manipulation of the tissue combined with mental relaxation is thought to provide pain-relieving benefits.
One 2013 study investigated whether or not massage and stretching could ease heel pain. Surprisingly, the study found that calf massage combined with stretching was even more effective than traditional ultrasound and stretching treatment for plantar fasciitis-related pain.
Another 2021 case report also found that massage helped relieve pain in a patient with plantar fasciitis.
2. Self-Massage Techniques Can Help You Ease Discomfort
If you want to try a plantar fasciitis massage, you don’t have to break the bank to do so. Many massage techniques are simple and easy to do at home.
Here are some favorite self-massage techniques for plantar fasciitis:
- Arch rub: Sit down and cross one leg over your opposite thigh so that you can easily reach your foot. Then, use your thumbs to rub the length of your foot’s arch in circular motions, from your heel to underneath your toes.
- Fist/knuckle work: Sitting in the same position described above, gently knead the bottom of your feet using your fist and knuckles.
- Ball massage: Don’t want to wear out your hands with self-massage? A massage ball is a handy way to work out plantar fasciitis pain while you relax. Simply roll the arch of your foot back and forth across a massage or tennis ball for a few minutes at a time.
3. Stretches Before or After Your Massage Routine Could Provide Additional Benefits
Along with massage for plantar fasciitis, it might be worth incorporating stretches in your routine, too.
As you may know, heel pain often feels worse in the morning, right after you roll out of bed. This is because the plantar fascia can tighten while you sleep. The good news is that certain stretches can help you loosen and relax your heel and lower leg muscles right after you wake up.
Here are two easy stretches to include before or after a massage:
Seated Towel Stretch
- Grab a towel and have a seat on a comfortable chair, with your feet planted on the ground.
- Fold the towel lengthwise.
- Lift one knee slightly up towards you, and wrap the towel under the arch of your foot.
- Hold each side of the towel and pull it towards you. You should feel a slight pressure from the towel on the underside of your foot and a stretch in your lower calf.
- Hold for 15 seconds, or as long as feels comfortable to you.
- Bring one foot close enough to hold onto your toes.
- Gently pull your toes back towards you until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your foot.
- Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat with the other foot.
4. Certain Foot Massagers are Designed to Help With Plantar Fasciitis
With the right foot massager, you can soothe heel pain without having to wear out your hands, roll your foot over a massage ball, or visit an expensive spa each week.
The MedMassager MMF07 foot massager is one device that comes with an arch-massaging bar specifically designed to relieve the tension in common problem areas like the heel.
Before you use the massager, we recommend putting on a pair of socks. Then, turn the device on low and slowly roll the arch of your foot along the bar. You can try this out for up to 15 minutes per session, multiple times per day if you’d like.
The technique should look something like this:
Using the MedMassager in this way can help you break up the tension in the plantar fascia, promote relaxation, and soothe your achy muscles.
The Takeaway on Massage for Plantar Fasciitis
Massage can be a soothing and helpful addition to use alongside any medically prescribed treatments for plantar fasciitis. Kneading the tissue can help you release tension and ease pain, whether you use a foot massager or your own hands.
Massage is generally safe, but it’s best to speak with your doctor before you try it out. Specific conditions that cause foot pain may become aggravated with massage, and only a medical professional can help you determine if it’s right for you.
Once you’ve got the go-ahead, you can get started easing your heel pain naturally. You can visit a physical therapist or a masseuse, or even ask your partner to help you. But for accessible and affordable massage day after day, you can use an FDA-certified device like the MedMassager MMF07 foot massager.