How to Use a Tennis Ball to Calm Plantar Fasciitis Pain

October 14, 2018
Because tennis balls are so flexible, they can be a great help when doing exercises and stretches to alleviate and improve plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch in the foot. Its primary function is to tense the base of the foot to soften the impact of every bodily movement.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fascia becomes inflamed, either due to overuse, overstretching, or wearing shoes that don’t provide enough support.

People who are overweight or obese also commonly suffer from this, as the extra force it takes to support them creates micro-traumas in the tissue. Most cases appear in adults between 40 and 70 years of age, but it’s also common at younger ages in athletes. The main symptom is a pain in the sole of the foot or the heel, although sometimes it spreads toward the ankle and toes.

Treatment is based on taking analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, but this can also be complemented with some stretching exercises. These can be done using a tennis ball, which helps relax and strengthen the affected muscles.

Below we are going to give you a detailed description of these exercises so you can practice them every time you feel any sort of discomfort from plantar fasciitis.

Rolling massage to alleviate plantar fasciitis

Rolling a tennis ball for a massage for your foot

Rolling your feet out with a tennis ball is one of the best therapies you can use to rehabilitate your foot and to calm the pain. Doing so will massage and stretch the foot by using your own strength to reduce tension in the plantar fascia.

How to do it

  • Sit down on a chair, and while keeping your back straight, place the tennis ball under the sole of your foot.
  • Gently apply pressure to the ball, pushing your foot to the ground and slowly moving forward and backward. You should move the ball from your toes to your heel.
  • Roll your foot on the ball for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other foot.
  • Repeat twice a day for three or four days or until the pain is lessened.

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person practicing bend to strengthen sole of foot

To strengthen your feet and improve the support they provide for you, it’s a good idea to use exercises that improve muscle and tendon flexibility. The following activity will not only relax your feet from pain, but it will also strengthen the sole of the foot, ankle, and legs.

How to do it

  • Place the tennis ball against a wall and bend your foot.
  • Then, place the ball below the upper part of the foot, keeping your heel on the ground.
  • Stretch your upper body toward the wall to increase the stretch.
  • Take three slow breaths, rest, and repeat 8 times.

Relaxation stretch

Relaxing stretch with tennis ball for helping with plantar fasciitis pain

This relaxation stretch combines breathing work and putting pressure on tight areas. It helps reactivate blood circulation and reduce inflammation. The pressure you place on the ball will gently massage the soft areas of the foot, thereby providing relief.

How to do it

  • While barefoot, stand with one foot forward, placed on the ball.
  • Step on the ball between the arch of your foot and your toes, but keep your weight distributed on the back foot.
  • Hold this posture and breathe in and out, while transferring your weight to the front foot.
  • Bend your knee slightly, hold for five seconds, then transfer your weight back to the rear foot.
  • Repeat on both feet, until you’ve reached 5 repetitions on each foot.

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Pressure point

Person massaging pressure points in foot with a tennis ball

Pressure point exercises focus on relaxing any of the muscles of the back of the foot, an area typically affected by plantar fasciitis. This allows you to place the ball just below the area where you feel the concentrated pain.

How to do it

  • Place the tennis ball under the ball of your foot and firmly press down for 10 seconds.
  • Change the position of the ball towards the top or bottom of the foot, then repeat.
  • Try to start in the areas that are closer to the base of your toes, then slowly move down towards your heel.

As you can see, a simple tennis ball can become your best tool for exercising and strengthening your feet. If you have injured your foot, or have bunions or calluses, these types of activities can create some relief while using other treatments for these conditions.

Try to make sure you follow all of the instructions so you don’t make the problem worse.