For clients who suffer from plantar fasciitis, a non-weight-bearing stretching protocol that targets the plantar fascia works better than the standard method of stretching the Achilles tendon, says a new study in the July 2003 issue of
the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition caused by inflammation in the connective tissue between the heel and the ball of the foot. Approximately 10 percent of people with the condition have persistent and disabling symptoms.

According to the researchers, treatment for the condition is often inappropriate and nonspecific. This 8-week study evaluated response rates to two different stretching techniques on patients with chronic plantar fasciitis. The participants either performed traditional weight-bearing Achilles tendon stretches or non-weight-bearing plantar fascia stretches three times per day.

While both groups reported an overall reduction in pain, those who did plantar fasciitis stretches experienced more relief in terms of severity of pain; they also had less pain when stretching in the morning. This led the researchers to conclude that “a program of non-weight-bearing stretching exercises specific to the plantar
fascia is superior to the standard program of weight-bearing Achilles tendon-stretching exercises for the treatment of symptoms of proximal plantar fasciitis. These findings about plantar faciitis stretches provide an alternative option to the present standard of care in the nonoperative treatment of patients with chronic, disabling plantar heel pain.”