How Pilates Helps Heal Plantar Fasciitis
I've lost count of how many of my clients have struggled with plantar fasciitis over the years, but I know it's a significant number. While I haven't had plantar fasciitis myself (I'm a bunion sufferer), I know two things are true: it's a seriously painful condition and it lasts a lot longer than you would like. The good news is that it will resolve over time, and Pilates definitely helps this process. Here's how.
One of the things I love to do before starting my workout is roll my feet over a ball. This massage often turns up hidden knots and tight spots in my arches, often in places I didn't even know needed attention. It only takes a few minutes, but when I'm done, I feel looser not just in my feet, but in my calves, hamstrings and even my low back. It's a good reminder that everything is connected! You can use a golf ball, tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or a fancy foot roller.
Once you get into your Pilates workout, you'll notice verbal cues to position your feet in particular ways. So even when you're doing an "ab exercise" or a "side strengthening exercise", you'll be cued to point or flex the feet. These specific instructions are repeated throughout the workout, leading to increased mobility in the feet and ankles. All this thinking about your feet naturally enhances your body awareness, and builds better balance and coordination.
We've covered pointing and flexing the feet, which is great for your calves and ankles, but what about the dome of your foot? Our arches are holding us up all day every day, and they need attention to. Joseph Pilates knew this and he created a series of exercises that's become known as the Towel Work. It looks simple, but I guarantee you'll be challenged! Here's how to do it:
Sit on a chair and place a small towel on the floor.
Place one bare foot on the nearest edge of the towel. Use your toes to scrunch and release small folds of the towel until you've successfully reached the far edge.
Now repeat in the opposite direction, using your toes to move the towel away from your chair.
While the good news is that your plantar fasciitis will resolve over time, the bad news is it often comes back. Pilates provides the consistent practice you need to keep your feet and ankles both strong and mobile.
More resources for plantar fasciitis: