Stretching the Plantar Fascia with Downward Facing Dog

Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, caused from inflammation of the plantar fascia.  The plantar fascia is a broad band of tissue that connects your heel bone to the toes and supports the arch of your foot.  Stretching this tissue has been shown to significantly reduce the inflammation and pain in the tissue. 

Most traditional plantar fascia stretches attempt to stretch the fascia at the origin by dorsiflexing (flexing) the ankle.  Many other structures also attach to the heel so this type of stretch ends up biasing the gastroc-soleus complex and the Achilles tendon more than the plantar fascia itself.  The most specific stretches for the plantar fascia focus on the insertion of the plantar fascia and include big toe extension.

I recently learned of a variation of downward facing dog that is an easy to perform and very specific for the plantar fascia because it includes great toe extension.  Try it for yourself to experience a deep stretch of your plantar fascia.


  1. Begin on the floor on your hands and knees, knees directly under the hips and hands slightly ahead of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide, and tuck your toes under.
  2. On an exhale, press through the fingers and lift your knees up, gently straightening them.  At the same time, lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and allow your heels to press down towards the ground.
  3. Next, check in with your arms, making sure to press the fingers actively into the floor and pull the shoulder blades back.  At this point, you are in a traditional downward facing dog.  You may hold here for 30 seconds to experience a dorsiflexion stretch.
  4. From this point, lift up both heels up until you feel a deep pull at the base of your big toes.  You are now stretching your plantar fascia.  Hold this position for 30 seconds – 2 minutes.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jack
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 16:13:01

    I love the way in which you have talked about this particular topic. Very helpful.
    I look forward to perusing the other comments.


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