In Part 1/5 in our plantar fasciitis series, @jfitboyd sheds light on the importance of the windlass mechanism - especially for those that overpronate. In this exercises, it is KEY that you DO NOT COMPENSATE. Only the arch should be limiting, not your toes or heel, or the exercise will be accomplishing absolutely nothing!
The orientation of the plantar fascia helps maintain the arch of the foot when walking and to maintain the appropriate timing of pronation and supination. Originating from the calcaneus (heel) to the phalanges (toes), the plantar fascia helps to maintain the medial longitudinal arch via the WINDLASS MECHANISM. The windlass mechanism occurs with dorsiflexion of the big toe (toe pointed upwards) and plantarflexion of the metatarsal, allowing for a RIGID FOOT needed for EFFICIENT PROPULSION AND PUSH OFF during the gait cycle. If this mechanism is altered there may be over FLATTENING of the arch causing excessive tensile stress to the fascia. If you are an overpronator, you will benefit greatly by improving your windlass mechanism, minimizing tissue stress and thus pain.
Here is a great exercise that works on developing intrinsic muscle strength as well as re-creation of the medial longitudinal arch to create a stable foot for propulsion.
Step 1: Sit in a chair with both feet placed flat on the floor
Step 2: Raise the arch of your foot by sliding your big toe toward your heel WITHOUT curling your toes or lifting your heel. Do NOT COMPENSATE.
Step 3: Hold the position for 2seconds then relax
Once you feel comfortable performing the short foot movement you can gradually progress to performing the exercise while standing and then eventually from a single-leg standing position