5 Self-Massage Techniques for Plantar Fasciitis

5 Self-Massage Techniques for Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition that thousands of people deal with on a daily basis. Typically it’s characterized as pain on the sole of the foot, often in and around the heel, which feels like an ache or a bruise.

It’s quite similar in sensation to heel spurs (1), however that is a bone issue while fasciitis is more to do with your ligaments. For some, it’s a relatively mild pain that they will just try to ignore so they can continue with their daily life.

For others, it is constant, severe and can make even the simplest of tasks difficult. For some people dealing with plantar fasciitis it’s a big struggle even just to walk around. The unfortunate thing about this condition is that it can happen to anyone for any number of reasons.

In addition to being a big problem for those carrying extra weight on account of obesity or pregnancy, it can also be the result of walking or running too much, having an occupation that requires you to be on your feet a lot, or it can be to do with the structure of your feet.

No matter what it’s caused by, plantar fasciitis can be a major hindrance to your life if you don’t do something about it. Fortunately, there actually is quite a bit you can do at home by yourself to ease the pain.

Self-massage can be extremely beneficial. Let’s take a look at 5 techniques which will help you out:

1) Thumb Pushes & Thumb Pulls

There are several different muscle groups which you should target if you want a thorough treatment for your pain, but we’ll start in the most obvious place, and that’s on the soles of your feet.

The goal of using your thumbs to massage this area is to increase blood flow to your muscles and also to knead out the knots and the strain in the fascial tissue.

You’ll need to be sitting down for this one. And you should start by resting your foot on the opposite knee. Using both of your thumbs, push along the length of sole starting at the heel and working up towards the toes.

Experiment a little bit with pressure here to see how much is too much for your level of pain. Once you’ve done this a few times, making sure you work on your entire sole, start doing thumb pulls.

For these you want to start at the center of your foot, under the line of the middle two toes and pull out towards the sides. Start near the top and work your way down to your heel. Do this on both feet if needs be.

2) Ball Massage

Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. Using a ball for massage purposes is a surprisingly effective approach, and you don’t need any kind of special massage ball for the job. You can use a golf ball, a lacrosse ball or even a tennis ball.

It just needs to be something that isn’t going to cave underneath your weight. It’s a great approach because you can use it pretty much anywhere and the technique is quite simple (2).

Sit down somewhere comfortable and place the ball on the ground in front of you. Put your foot on top and then roll it from your heel all the way up to your toes and then back down. You can shift your weight to experiment with the amount of pressure.

3) Calf Kneading

Your calf muscle is connected to the Achilles tendon which, is in turn, connected to the muscles and ligaments in the lower part of your foot, around your heel where you are most likely going to be feeling the effects of plantar fasciitis.

When our calf muscles get tight from standing a lot, walking, or from doing high-intensity sports or training, this puts a lot of pressure on your ankle and foot and can be a root cause of plantar fasciitis.

It’s important to include calf massage in your work. The best way to loosen the muscles up is to do some kneading. Take a similar approach to what you did with the thumb pushing on the sole of your foot.

Cross one leg over the other and then use your thumbs to push from the top of the calf muscle, which is a bit below the knee, all the way down to your ankle. Your fingers should be on your shin while you’re doing this.

Do this on both legs for about a minute and you should start to feel the muscle loosening up a little.

4) Hamstring Roll

What you have probably noticed already is that we are moving further up the body with each tip. Your calf muscle is connected to your hamstring too, and so tightness there can travel downwards and reach your foot, too.

Again, it’s important to deal with every specific muscle group involved so working on your hamstring is essential, and a great way to do that is by using a foam roller. A tremendously beneficial piece of equipment (3) that you can use in a variety of ways.

Use it by sitting on the floor and putting the roller beneath your legs. Let it rest where the hamstring starts just below your buttocks and then slowly roll backwards and forwards. Keep this work going for a minute or two.

5) Glute Work

In addition to the same travelling tension that we discussed earlier, your glutes can also increase the pain of fasciitis by tightening your sciatic nerve. (4) A sciatic nerve that is inhibited will cause all kinds of pain in your back legs and feet and it’s sourced in your glutes.

Easing tension in these muscles requires focus on the side of the body. As opposed to on your actual buttocks, you need to massage close to your hip bones. So the best way is to use either your massage roller or the ball you used on your feet.

Sit sideways on either of these and slowly roll around the area. It’s a bit of an awkward position and you could easily slip off so keep it slow and be careful about it. This can also be a bit painful because it’s a tender spot, but working on it can loosen up your entire lower body.

Professional Therapy

So with all of that in mind, it’s also important to consider that getting a professional massage treatment is also very beneficial, and if you are dealing with particularly severe pain it might be a better option for you.

As much work as you can do, massage therapists are trained to understand the function of every muscle, how they’re all connected, how to recognize the source of your pain and how best to treat it.

They have likely spent several years studying it and are well-practiced in helping people. So they will naturally do a better job of working on the specific muscles that are causing your problems.

Getting a professional massage has tons of other benefits too (5), such as anxiety relief and improved sleep so it’s a worthwhile experience for more reasons than just being an effective plantar fasciitis treatment.


While the pain of plantar fasciitis is generally localized to your feet, it often happens due to a combination of different muscle issues. Easing the pain involves working on all of those, and massage is a reliable route towards relief.


  1. Drew, B. Fortunate Feet. (Accessed: November 2021), What’s the Difference Between Heel Spurs & Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.fortunatefeet.com/difference-heel-spurs-and-plantar-fasciitis/
  2. Heel That Pain (Accessed: November 2021), The Golf Ball Remedy. https://heelthatpain.com/plantar-fasciitis/golf-ball/
  3. Chertoff, J. Healthline. (April 11, 2019), Foam Roller Benefits, Tips & How-To. https://www.healthline.com/health/foam-roller-benefits
  4. Cleveland Clinic. (Last Reviewed: March 25, 2020), Sciatica: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention & Pain Management.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12792-sciatica
  5. Gregory, B. Prevention. (February 19, 2020), 6 Benefits of Massage Therapy – Why it’s Important to Get Massages. https://www.prevention.com/health/g26305736/massage-therapy-benefits/
  6. Mayo Clinic. (Last Modified: December 11, 2019), Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354846
  7. Trojian, T. Tucker, A.K. American Family Physician. (June 15, 2019), Plantar Fasciitis. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0615/p744.html