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How to Massage Plantar Fasciitis: Best Techniques and Tools

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated February 17, 2023.

Man with plantar fasciitis massaging painful heel

Plantar fasciitis remains a common cause of foot and heel pain. While there are many things to avoid with plantar fasciitis, massage is not one. Along with exercises for plantar fasciitis heel pain, they remain one of the most frequently used treatment procedures

This article provides a treatment guide for plantar fasciitis using massage as your primary tool.

Hand Massages for Plantar Fasciitis

Since plantar fasciitis pain is usually felt first thing in the morning, self-massages can be done before your step out of bed. Moreover, it is also essential to massage your feet at night while on the bed before going to sleep to take away all the stress and tension placed on your feet.

Listed below are a few hand massage techniques for plantar fasciitis.

Stroking and Effleurage Technique

  1. Sit on the bed with your feet above the knee in a figure-4 position.
  2. Use the heel of your hand and your thumb to stroke the underside of your foot from the heel towards your toes. Note: This can also be done using your knuckles, just make sure to adjust the pressure.
  3. Cover your full sole and your toes.
  4. Continue for 5-7 minutes on each foot for 1 set.
  5. Perform 2 sets per day.

Kneading Technique

  1. Sit on the bed with your feet above the knee in a figure-4 position.
  2. With the pad of your thumb, push on the sore points of your sole in a circular motion (kneading).
  3. Knead each point for about 10 seconds, covering the whole foot (including the painless spots).
  4. Adjust the pressure to your comfort.
  5. Continue for 5-7 minutes on each foot for 1 set.
  6. Perform 2 sets per day.

Note: This can also be done with your knuckles if the pressure isn't too much to bear.

Cross Fiber Massage

  1. Using the above method of stroking and kneading, massage the foot vertically from heel to toe, covering the full length of your arch.
  2. Then massage horizontally, from side to side, covering the width of your arch.
  3. Continue for 2-5 minutes on each foot for 1 set
  4. Perform 2 sets per day.

Using Massage Tools for Plantar Fasciitis

Massaging tools are commonly used as an at-home treatment method alongside other clinical treatments. The most frequently used is a ball and a roller.

Listed below are a few tool massage techniques for plantar fasciitis.

Ball Massage Technique

  1. Sit on a chair or stand with support.
  2. Place a tennis or a therapy ball under the sole of your feet.
  3. Slowly and gently roll your feet on the ball back and forth from the heel to the toes with as much pressure as is bearable.
  4. A soft spike ball can also be used
  5. Continue for 7 mins, once a day.

Note: A soft spike ball can also be used if it doesn't cause you pain to give yourself a deep tissue massage.

Massage Guns for Plantar Fasciitis

Massage guns are a new massage tool used for pain relief, muscle recovery, and relaxation. They have adjustable vibration settings and also come with a different knob for different parts of your body

They can be used for plantar fasciitis but should be done so with caution if you aren't a registered healthcare practitioner due to their high intensity and different functions. Deep tissue massages with a tool help in recovery from plantar fasciitis and should only be used for a maximum of 3 minutes and thrice a week.

There are several other tools like a plantar fasciitis massage roller, different types of balls, etc available in the market as products used in foot rehabilitation.

When Should You See a Podiatrist for Plantar Fasciitis?

It is recommended to visit your podiatrist when the pain is persistent and begins to restrict your movement. They may suggest a pair of custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis along with other conservative management (such as eccentric stretching) depending upon your foot type and individual need.

The sooner you see a healthcare practitioner and obtain treatment products, the faster your recovery from plantar fasciitis will be.

Does Foot Massage Help Plantar Fasciitis?

Massaging your feet for plantar fasciitis is a good way to relieve pain and relax your feet as it improves circulation. However, it is extremely important to know the right method to use. This way, you can avoid any flare-ups in your current pain level and prevent your condition from becoming exacerbated.

Firstly it is essential to know the correct method of massaging and when to do it. Also, know that when done incorrectly, massaging may aggravate the condition. With all massage types, be gentle to start with and increase the pressure if you feel comfortable to avoid inflicting pain. Additionally, the use of a moisturizer or oil helps avoid friction.