For anyone suffering from heel pain related to their plantar fascia, incorporating plantar fasciitis stretching exercises into your daily routine can help alleviate the condition.
About Plantar Fasciitis
Millions of people suffer every year from heel pain. This generally occurs when the elastic band of muscle that runs along the bottom of your foot gradually becomes less elastic. The fat pads on your heels become thinner and don't absorb shock as well when you walk or run. Typically, this pain is at its worst first thing in the morning when you rise from bed. While this is a condition that usually happens as people age, there are other factors that increase the risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis, such as:
- Having an extremely high or low arch
- Standing on your feet for long periods
You can employ medication to relieve some of the pain, but studies show that regular stretching helps alleviate symptoms, which is important for people who don't want to medicate themselves.
Various Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises
If you want to try and relieve heel pain yourself, without medicine or surgery, using these stretching exercises may help you avoid costly treatments. It's best to do your stretches each day, at least twice a day. They don't take up a lot of time and some can be done while sitting in a chair at your desk or watching television. If any of these stretches cause you pain, stop immediately.
For some of these stretches, you may need objects commonly found around the house, such as a towel or tennis ball.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back straight.
- Place a tennis ball under your foot.
- Slowly roll the tennis ball back and forth under your foot, making sure your entire foot goes over it.
- Sit on the floor with one leg stretched in front of you, the other folded in toward your body.
- Fold a towel lengthwise and wrap it around the ball of your foot, holding the ends in your hands.
- Gently pull the towel back toward you for 30-60 seconds.
- Try to keep your leg straight.
- Sit in a chair with one leg crossed over the other.
- Grasp the toes of the foot on top and gently pull them toward the shin.
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times in a row.
- This exercise seems most effective when repeated a minimum of three times daily.
You can also perform some plantar fasciitis stretching exercises while standing. If you space them out throughout your day, you may be able to fit some in while on breaks at work.
- Stand on the edge of a stair step with the back part of your feet hanging off.
- Gently lower yourself until the back of your feet are below the edge of the stair.
- Raise yourself back up and repeat.
- Stand in front of a wall with your arms held in front of you, against the wall.
- Keep your injured foot behind the other.
- Bend both knees while keeping your heels flat on the floor.
- Hold 10-15 seconds and repeat six to eight times.
- Stand in front of wall, arms against it.
- Keep your injured foot behind you, with the leg straight.
- Bend the knee of the forward leg and lean forward, keeping your heels on the floor.
- Again, hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat six to eight times.
While stretching exercises may not work for everyone, it's worth it for anyone suffering from plantar fasciitis to try them before they resort to costly surgery. Losing weight with a combination of healthy eating and cardio exercise can also help and is something in your control to do. If you consider an elliptical vs. a treadmill, the elliptical has a slight advantage because it won't place as much stress on your feet.
Stretching exercises are best performed as soon as you wake in the morning (the seated ones can be done while still in bed if needed) and repeated daily. You may find you don't need additional treatment just by taking these steps. While this is no overnight cure, with diligence and patience, you may be able to relieve your heel pain yourself.