New Plantar Fasciitis Research: Do You Need to Stretch AND Strengthen Your Feet?

New Plantar Fasciitis Research: Do You Need to Stretch AND Strengthen Your Feet?
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Stretching and exercising the feet are two of the most common natural remedies used to treat plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis involves pain and stiffness in the heel, and stretching provides temporary pain relief and promotes healing in the tissues.

Scientists have also found that weak abductor and lateral rotator muscles in the hips are also risk factors for plantar fasciitis. A recent study published in Manual Therapy examined whether stretching alone, stretching and strengthening the feet, or stretching and strengthening the feet and hips was a more effective treatment for plantar fasciitis.

Summary of the Study

This study consisted of 83 participants between the ages of 20-60 who had medical diagnoses of chronic plantar fasciitis.

Participants ranked their pain on a visual analog scale before and after the treatment cycle, for pain first thing in the morning and pain at the end of the day. They also underwent tests to assess foot and ankle function, lower limb stability, and dynamic balance.

This was a randomized controlled single-blind clinical trial, and participants were split into three groups to undergo an 8-week treatment.

Group 1 was assigned daily stretching of the feet and hamstrings. They performed two variations of the wall stretch, the plantar fascia stretch, and one additional stretch.

Group 2 was assigned all of the same stretches as Group 1, and six additional exercises to strengthen the feet.

Group 3 was assigned all of the same exercises as Groups 1 and 2, and four additional hip strengthening exercises.

So which treatment was the most effective? The results might surprise you!

Results: Strengthening Exercises Were Not More Effective Than Stretching Alone

Each of the treatment groups saw some improvement in heel pain and function, however using exercises to strengthen the hips and feet was found to be no more effective than stretching alone.

This adds to growing evidence that stretching the feet is one of the best natural treatments for plantar fasciitis and related conditions. Other clinical studies have shown that certain shoe inserts are also highly effective for treating this condition.

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