A thick band of tissue called the fascia is located on the sole of your foot. The fascia runs the length of your foot and can tighten up after long periods of standing still, sitting or reclining. The tightening of the fascia, called plantar fasciitis, causes pain in the sole and heel. Foot exercises to loosen the fascia include stretching and strengthening activities.
You can stretch the fascia in a number of ways. Rolling exercises are a common treatment for plantar fasciitis. Place a small rubber ball or soup can under your foot and roll it back and forth to loosen the tissues. Try a can of frozen juice -- the icy temperature can reduce inflammation. Calf stretches are also useful for plantar fasciitis, according to "American Family Physician." Stand on a step and drop your heels down. You'll feel the stretch across the sole of your foot and in your calves.
Strengthening exercises for the foot also loosen the fascia and reduce pain as they build up the muscles surrounding the fascia. Stand barefoot on the floor. Scrunch up the toes of one foot as if you were picking something up off the floor with your foot. Pick up a towel or marbles with your toes if using props makes it easier to perform the exercise. Toe walking is another exercise that both stretches the fascia and strengthens your foot. Stand as high as you can on your toes and take long strides.
You can do exercises to loosen the sole of the foot before you get out of bed in some cases. The fascia is the tightest and most painful for many people in the morning after a night of inactivity. Flexing the foot with your toes pointing toward the ceiling is an easy stretch to perform in bed. Loop a towel around the sole of your foot and pull gently on the towel ends to get a better stretch. Massage can also be an effective early-morning activity. Apply pressure with two fingers about two-thirds of the way down your sole, just above your heel. Other stretches can be done before your normal workout on a daily basis as long as you are not in pain.
Proper footwear can help prevent and ease plantar fasciitis pain. Choose shoes that are roomy and don't constrict your movement -- you should be able to wiggle your toes freely. Arch support is important too, especially for those with flat feet. Sneakers that offer a thick mid-sole cushion can provide arch support and prevent pain in the sole. Consider orthotics to build up the arch of your shoe if needed.
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.