When your feet hurt, there are many different conditions that could be causing your pain. When the pain is localized in the heels, many times, the cause of the problem is plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the thick, connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your feet. There are a whole host of treatment options that can help relieve this pain. The one we'll explore in this article is: 

  • Non-invasive
  • Inexpensive
  • Carries few possibilities of complication
  • Can be done anywhere

So, what's this miracle cure I'm talking about? Foam rolling! 

What is foam rolling and how can I do it on my feet? 

Foam rolling is already a staple in most runner's cool down routines. It helps loosen up tight muscles by applying firm yet gentle pressure to the affected area. The same is true when it comes to foot rollers: they should be used to create pressure on the bottom of your foot. The roller you use could be anything. It is typically a hard stick made of (you guessed it) inflexible foam material.  When you first start foam rolling your feet, gentle pressure is best to avoid injury

When it comes to larger areas of your body, you don't need to worry about how much pressure you apply with the roller. Your feet, however, are a little more delicate. You should start by applying gentle pressure, and working your way up to harder pushes. When you're dealing with heel pain, that gentle pressure may loosen up tight foot muscles. Those muscles are pulling on your plantar fascia and contributing to its inflammation. Go too hard, though, and you could further irritate the sensitive area.

With that said, here's how to foam roll your foot. Find any trigger points on your soles (tight spots or knots.) Place those areas onto the foam and gently roll, back and forth, for about 20 seconds per knot. Now, remember, foam rolling hurts, often quite a bit at first. But it's important to roll through that initial discomfort if you want to loosen up your feet. Your pain will decrease by applying gentle pressure on the roller. Move it slowly across your foot with back and forth motions. This will decrease your pain and the areas of tension will begin to loosen up. 

For newbies to foam rolling, I'd work on one spot in a day, giving your foot a chance to get used to the new sensation. If you experience tenderness during a session, give your foot a day off between rolls. If discomfort increases while you roll, or feels sharp instead of dull, stop rolling right away! Come into the office to see me to make sure you're not creating new problems for yourself. Otherwise, I bid you, go forth and roll away. (With, that is, a few exceptions...keep reading to find out if foam rolling is not right for you.) 

I Have Diabetes. Can I Still Foam Roll My Feet?

This depends. If the roller is made of foam that you can depress with your finger, there should be no problem rolling your foot. If the roller is a harder material, like wood then you shouldn't risk it. Too much pressure in one area of your foot can create a wound. A softer material, such as foam wont't put you at risk. If you have any questions about what the best choice is for you, come on in and ask Dr. Andrew Schneider.


If you are experiencing heel pain and foam rolling alone isn't solving the problem, its time to come in to get it checked. Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate appointment. He has an effective protocol to get you out of pain.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.