Plantar fasciitis is foot pain and inflammation centered in the plantar fascia, a crucial tissue band connecting your heel to your toes.
This tissue is essentially the support system for your foot’s arch and acts as a shock absorber during all your physical endeavors. When it becomes inflamed, you’re looking at symptoms like heel pain, stiffness, and even difficulty in walking.
But here’s some good news: Yoga can be a game-changer in your journey to relief.
Incorporating yoga poses focusing on foot flexibility, ankle strength, and calf muscle elongation can help stretch and strengthen the plantar fascia. These poses include:
- Upward Salute
- Downward-Facing Dog
- Warrior III
- High Lunge
- Seated Forward Bend
Plantar fasciitis is commonly caused by repetitive strain or excessive pressure on the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.
Multiple factors that impact the amount of pressure put on your feet can contribute to the condition.
Overuse and Strain
Overuse and excessive strain are the usual causes of plantar fasciitis pain.
If you’ve recently upped your physical activity — like you’ve taken up running or joined a dance class — you’re at a higher risk. Studies confirm that a sudden increase in physical activity can make you more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
Foot structure also plays a role. If you have flat feet or high arches, you’re putting extra stress on your plantar fascia due to uneven weight distribution.
Research supports this, indicating that individuals with these foot types are more likely to develop the condition.
Weight is another factor to consider.
Obesity puts additional stress on the plantar fascia, and studies have found a direct correlation between a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and the likelihood of experiencing plantar fasciitis.
Lastly, your environment matters. Spending extended periods on hard surfaces or wearing shoes that lack proper support can exacerbate the issue.
Research shows that standing or walking on hard surfaces for more than five hours daily increases your risk.
How Yoga Helps
Stretching is shown to be an effective way to alleviate pain, and yoga is all about stretching and strengthening the body — including the muscles and tendons in your feet, calves, and lower legs.
Regular yoga can improve your balance, flexibility, and overall foot health.
Here are some of the best yoga poses to help relieve plantar fasciitis pain. Practice these moves in a sequence to help stretch the plantar fascia.
Why It Rocks: Upward Salute is more than just a full-body stretch; it’s a targeted therapy session for your plantar fascia.
By extending your body upward, you’re also pulling on the fascia, giving it a much-needed stretch. Plus, it strengthens your calf muscles, indirectly supporting your foot arch and reducing the risk of flaring plantar fasciitis.
How to Strike the Pose: Stand in Mountain pose, feet hip-width apart. Inhale deeply and raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Gently arch your back and gaze upwards. Hold, breathe, and feel that stretch from your toes to your fingertips.
Why It Rocks: The Chair pose is like a mini gym session for your lower legs. It targets the Achilles tendon and calf muscles, key players in supporting your plantar fascia.
The stronger these areas are the less strain on your fascia, making this pose a preventive measure against future flare-ups.
How to Strike the Pose: Start in Mountain pose, feet hip-width apart. Inhale and lift your arms overhead. As you exhale, pretend you’re sitting back in an invisible chair. Hold it, breathe, and embrace the burn in your legs.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Why It Rocks: This is the ultimate stretch for your entire body, but let’s focus on those feet.
The Downward-Facing Dog yoga pose stretches the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles, making it a triple threat against heel pain.
How to Strike the Pose: Begin on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips sky-high. Straighten your legs and push your heels towards the floor. Hold and breathe, letting the stretch work its magic.
Why It Rocks: The Warrior III pose is a balance challenge that engages your entire body, but it’s especially good for strengthening the muscles and tendons in your feet and lower legs. The more strength you build, the better your plantar fascia is supported.
How to Strike the Pose: Stand tall in Mountain pose. Inhale and lift your arms overhead. As you exhale, shift your weight onto one foot while extending the other leg behind you. Lower your torso until it’s parallel to the ground. Hold, breathe, and feel your foot and calf muscles working hard.
Why It Rocks: While it’s known as a hip opener, Pigeon pose also gives a good stretch to your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. It’s a great way to relieve tension all the way from your hips down to your heels.
How to Strike the Pose: Start on all fours, then slide one knee toward your wrist. Extend the other leg straight back. Inhale to lift your chest, and exhale to lean forward. Hold and breathe, feeling the stretch along your back leg.
Why It Rocks: The High Lunge pose is a powerhouse for your lower body. It stretches the calf muscles and Achilles tendon and even gives a little tug to the plantar fascia, making it a comprehensive pose for foot health.
How to Strike the Pose: Start in Mountain pose, then step one foot back into a lunge. Keep your front knee over your ankle as you inhale and lift your arms overhead. Hold for a few breaths, feeling the stretch in your back leg and foot.
Why It Rocks: This seated pose is a gentle way to stretch the plantar fascia and improve overall foot health. Thunderbolt is good for beginners or when you need something less intense.
How to Strike the Pose: Start on your hands and knees, then sit back on your heels. Keep your knees together and sit up tall. Rest your hands on your thighs and breathe, feeling a gentle stretch in your feet.
Seated Forward Bend
Why It Rocks: This calming pose stretches the entire backside of your body, including the plantar fascia. The Seated Forward Bend is a good pose to end your practice with, as it also helps to relax the mind.
How to Strike the Pose: Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Inhale and raise your arms overhead. As you exhale, fold forward, reaching for your feet or ankles. Hold and breathe, feeling the stretch along your legs and feet.