Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel and foot pain. Fortunately, stretches and foot massage that you can do at home may help relieve pain and prevent the condition from becoming chronic.

Here are some tips and self-massage techniques you can try at home.

Massaging your feet should feel good, or a little uncomfortable, but not painful. Start with a softer touch and increase the pressure of your hands or objects you use as your pain improves. Avoid pushing on very sore spots.

Because heel pain is often most intense when you first get out of bed, you can try one or two of these techniques sitting in bed, before you start putting weight on your feet.

It’s good to warm up your feet with light massage, letting blood flow to the area. You may want to use a small amount of moisturizer for the massage.

If both your feet are affected, massage each foot.

Experiment with these techniques to find what works best for you.

  1. Sit down on a bed or chair and bring one foot up to rest where you can reach it with your hand.
  2. Use the heel of your opposite hand to push down on the sole of your foot, working from the heel to the toes.
  3. Start with longer strokes and light pressure, then lengthen your strokes and increase the pressure. Use your body weight to increase the pressure, leaning in as you massage.
  4. Cover the surface of your foot a few times to loosen up the fascia tissue.

You can also use a softly clenched fist for this massage.

  1. Sit down on a bed or chair and cross one leg over the other.
  2. Use both thumbs to push along the length of your sole, moving from the heel to your toes and then back. Work in a line toward your big toe. Then move up and down the foot in a line to each other toe.
  3. Work your thumbs up and down the foot for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Increase the pressure by leaning in to use more body weight.
  1. Sit down and cross one leg over the other.
  2. Put both thumbs in the middle of your foot. At the same time, pull one thumb toward the right side of your foot and the other to the left side, moving the fascial tissue. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Move to other areas of your foot, pulling your thumbs to each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover the surface of your foot with this motion.
  4. Increase the pressure by leaning in to use more body weight.

While doing the heel-of-hand massage or thumb pushes, try pointing and flexing your toes in each direction.

You can also massage each toe individually, pulling it out and moving it in circles. Keep your toes relaxed while you do this.

You can use many types of balls for this massage: golf ball, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, dryer ball.

  1. Sit down in a comfortable chair or couch and put a ball under the arch of one foot. Lean forward to use your body weight to regulate the pressure on the ball.
  2. Slowly roll the ball up and down the length of your foot and then from side to side. Start with mild pressure and gradually add more by pressing down on the ball as you roll it.
  3. Roll for about a minute.

This is similar to the ball massage, but it’s done using a frozen can or frozen water bottle. This massage can help in the morning before you get out of bed and also at night. It stretches out the fascia, massages it, and calms it.

You may want to leave a small cooler with the frozen bottle near your bed so you can use it in the morning before putting weight on your foot.

  1. Start sitting on a bed or chair.
  2. Place a frozen bottle or can under your foot.
  3. Roll it back and forth with moderate pressure for 5 to 10 minutes.

The calf muscles, known as gastrocnemius and soleus, connect to the Achilles tendon. These calf muscles are often tight, especially if you stand a lot, run, or wear high heels. This can contribute to plantar fasciitis, and calf massage can help relieve your foot pain.

There aren’t many clinical studies that compare plantar fasciitis treatments, and more are needed. One 2013 clinical study found that deep soft tissue calf massage combined with stretching helped relieve pain and improve function for people with plantar fasciitis.


  1. Sit down on a chair and cross one leg over the other.
  2. Put both hands over your calf with your fingers in the front and your thumbs at the back.
  3. Squeeze the calf muscle between your thumbs and your fingers, working up and down the leg. Your fingers will be on your shins and the thumbs will be massaging the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles on the back of your calf.


  1. Sit down on a chair and cross one leg over the other.
  2. Put both hands over your calf with your fingers in the front and your thumbs at the back, pointing downward.
  3. Using your hand like a clamp, grab the calf muscle and pull it forward over to the front of your leg.
  4. Work up and down your lower leg.


  1. Sit down on a chair or couch and extend your leg in front of you, resting it on another chair or stool.
  2. Take a rolling pin or foam roller and roll it from the back of your knee down toward the ankle and back.
  3. Repeat the rolling a few times.

A professional massage therapist can help with plantar fasciitis, as can a professional physical therapist. Therapists can show you the way to do stretches, exercises, and massage techniques.

Massage therapist Cynthia Parsons, LMT, says that the first thing a professional therapist will do is try to figure out what’s causing your plantar fasciitis pain.

“I look for how the foot moves when you walk, and how your pelvis is aligned, which affects leg length. If your foot doesn’t go through the full range of motion, heel to toe, it can cause tightness in your calf and ankles.”

Parsons is a licensed massage therapist with 25 years of experience in private practice in northern Virginia.

“A massage therapist [can do] deep tissue massage,” Parsons says. “I start at the calf, working the very deep muscles on the back and outer part of your calf. Then I address the tendons and muscles on the sole of the foot. Massage treatments include kneading, myofascial release, muscle energy technique, positional release, trigger point therapy, pin and stretch. I don’t do these all at once, but work until one or more techniques relieve the pain.”

For self-massage, Parsons advises that you first warm up your feet, soaking them in warm water and Epsom salts. But the best treatment, she says, is prevention.

“If you’re a runner, if you stand a lot, or if you have flat feet or a high arch, you’re susceptible to plantar fasciitis. You need to make sure you walk correctly and do exercises and stretches to keep your muscles from getting tight,” she advises.

Plantar fasciitis is a common and painful condition for many — especially runners and those who stand a lot. At-home massage and stretching can help relieve pain and help prevent the condition from becoming chronic.

Plantar fasciitis pain tends to be most severe first thing in the morning. Self-massage before you get out of bed and put weight on your feet can help relieve pain.