A plantar fibroma isn’t dangerous, but it can be painful and feel like it’s in the way while you’re doing your daily activities.
They usually go away by themselves over time. But while you’re waiting for it to heal, learning some plantar fibroma massages to do at home can help lower your pain levels and improve your range of motion.
Most of them can be done without any equipment, although you may need a ball for some, like a golf ball or tennis ball.
Try these before you use any other kind of treatment. You may be able to improve your pain without the need for medication!
What Is Plantar Fibroma?
A plantar fibroma is a non-cancerous nodule that starts as a hard, small lump underneath your foot. It can grow up to one inch in size.
The plantar fibroma develops gradually between the skin and the plantar fascia of your foot. In most cases, you’ll find the lump in the arch of your foot, but it can sometimes develop near the heel of your foot.
Unfortunately, the nodule will continue to grow, causing discomfort and pain when standing or wearing shoes. This results from pressure being placed directly on the lump, which then presses into the nerves and soft tissue of the sole of the foot.
You can develop a plantar fibroma in just one foot, but it can also develop in both feet at the same time. It’s also possible that you may develop multiple fibromas in one or both feet. This is known as plantar fibromatosis or Ledderhose Disease.
Even if you have a small lump underneath your foot that currently isn’t causing any pain, you should get it checked by your doctor. This can help to prevent the nodule from progressing.
The main symptom of a plantar fibroma is a lump on the bottom of your foot that may resemble a bead under the skin. Due to its small size in the early stages, you may not experience any symptoms.
As the nodule becomes bigger, you may begin to experience tightness on the bottom of your foot. It can also feel as though the bottom of your foot is stiff when you take your first few steps out of bed in the morning.
When you put your shoes on, you will experience discomfort and pain in the middle of the foot’s arch.
How Long Will It Take To Heal?
The healing time of a plantar fibroma depends on several factors, such as:
- Size of the plantar fibroma
- Number of nodules present
- The course of treatment, e.g. having a corticosteroid injection or using a topical gel
That being said, most cases of plantar fibroma heal within a few weeks with treatment.
How Do Plantar Fibroma Massages Help?
Massaging the foot with the plantar fibroma will help release the tension in your foot, reduce pain, and increase circulation, promoting healing.
It will also help enhance the health of the surrounding tissue, which can help prevent the lump from getting bigger. Massaging the bottom of your foot will also help to break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation of the surrounding tissue.
What to Do and Not Do When Massaging
When you have a plantar fibroma, you want to make sure that the massage feels good. It’s okay if it feels a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful or increase the intensity of the pain.
To help you get the most out of your massage, keep the following in mind:
Do Start Slowly and Gently
Before you use a tennis ball or a frozen bottle, use your hands to lightly massage the area to help increase the blood flow. Make sure to start with a soft touch at first and gradually increase the pressure to what feels good for you.
Depending on your course of treatment, you can use a small amount of moisturizer for the massage if your doctor didn’t prescribe a topical cream. This will help to ensure a smooth, controlled movement to relax the soft tissues.
Don’t Put Direct Pressure on the Fibroma
As you massage your foot, avoid putting direct pressure on the plantar fibroma, as this will cause pain. Instead, massage the soft tissue around it. This will reduce any referred pain or tension that’s caused by the lumps.
Don’t Continue If It’s Painful
Some slight discomfort is to be expected while massaging, but it shouldn’t cause you worse pain.
If you find that the intensity of the pain increases, then change the amount of pressure that you’re applying. If it continues to be painful, then stop the massage.
Does Massage Remove the Lump?
Unfortunately, massaging your affected foot won’t cure the condition. With that being said, it is effective in helping reduce pain, inflammation, and tension. It will promote healing by bringing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the affected area.
Massaging your feet can be very effective when paired with other conservative treatments, like orthotic insoles, corticosteroid shots, topical gels, and physical therapy.
Massages to Treat Plantar Fibroma
You can use a tennis or lacrosse ball for this massage, but it can also be done with a frozen bottle of water.
It’s best to do this massage from a seated position, as standing will place more weight and pressure on the ball. While seated, you can more effectively control the amount of pressure you use.
Place the ball on the ground and place the arch of your foot on it. Apply mild pressure. Then slowly roll the ball up and down the length of your foot 3 to 5 times, maintaining the pressure.
Next, roll the ball from side to side 3 to 5 times.
Roll the ball for 1 to 2 minutes on each foot and gradually add some more pressure by using your body weight and leaning forward. Make sure that the pressure applied is comfortable and doesn’t increase the intensity of the pain.
If you find some tender areas around the lumps, stop rolling and hold the ball on that spot. You can increase the pressure—it must be comfortable—to the area for 30 to 45 seconds. This will help to release the tension of that trigger point.
Repeat this massage on your other foot.
Petrissage Sole of the Foot
Sit somewhere comfortable and lift your foot up, so the underside of your foot is facing you. The easiest way to do it is to place your affected foot on your opposite knee in a cross-legged motion.
Place both thumbs on the sole of the foot, just above the heel. You can grip around the foot with your other fingers to create an anchor so you can massage with your thumbs.
Push your thumbs across the plantar fascia from one side of the foot to the other. They should criss-cross past each other as you massage.
Applying firm pressure, continue to do this and move upwards at the same time. Once you get to the ball of the foot, move downwards again.
Repeat this 3 to 5 times.
Spreading the Metatarsals
This massage technique helps to stretch the intrinsic foot muscles and surrounding soft tissue by spreading the metatarsal bones.
When you perform this massage, it’s important that you pull the metatarsal heads—toe knuckles—and not just the toes apart.
To start this massage, place your thumbs on the metatarsal heads under the ball of your foot. The rest of your fingers will be on top of your foot to help provide an anchor point to mobilize each metatarsal head.
Start by grasping your baby toe around the knuckle with your right hand while you hold the rest of your toe knuckles in your left hand. Now, gently move the metatarsal back and forth by using your thumbs to spread the metatarsal bones.
Continue to repeat this movement on each individual toe.
Tight calves can contribute to the development of plantar fibroma, as they pull on the plantar fascia via the Achilles tendon. This places excessive strain on the plantar fascia.
By massaging your calf, you’ll relax the muscles and tendons, which will decrease the load on the plantar fascia. This can reduce the symptoms of plantar fibroma.
To massage the inside of your calf, you can rotate your foot outwards to give you more access to the inside of your calf. Rotating your foot inwards will give you more access to the outside.
Start by sitting in a chair and crossing the leg with the affected foot over the other. Then place your thumbs on your calf, with the rest of your fingers on your shin.
You can then choose to use long stripping motions down the calf towards your heel or across your calf towards your knee. You can also use circular movements with your fingers to massage the muscle.
Make sure that you apply enough pressure as you work your way up and down the muscle. You can also alternate between light and heavy pressure, as long as it doesn’t cause pain.
As you massage the muscle, pay attention to any trigger points—sore or tender spots—that you may find. Stop and apply pressure with your fingers to that spot for 10 to 20 seconds or until the pain eases up.
If you would like to apply more pressure, you can use the palm or heel of your hand to massage the calf.