Have you been experiencing a jolting pain in your heel? Is it the kind of pain that is worse in the morning but subsides as you move about?
You are not alone.
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Amol Saxena, reveals that “Over 50 per cent of Americans will experience heel pain during their lifetime.”
He cites plantar fasciitis or “heel spur syndrome” as the most common cause.
As annoying as it is, it can be relieved by doing some simple and effective foot exercises for Plantar Fasciitis. There are also steps you can take to prevent future flare ups of the condition.
As suggested by its last four letters, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation. Specifically, it is inflammation of the plantar fasciaa - a tough band of connective tissue running from your heel, along your sole and branching out to attach to the base of each of your toes.
The inflammation (and associated pain) occurs when the plantar fascia is damaged. If left untreated, the condition could become chronic or lead to an extremely painful rupture in the plantar fascia.
Women are more at risk than men for developing plantar fasciitis. Other persons at risk include those who are overweight or who have experienced weight gain, as in pregnancy.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons lists the following as other risk factors of the condition:
According to the Mayo Clinic, you are also at an increased risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you wear shoes with inadequate support or where your job requires that you stand or walk on hard surfaces for long periods of time.
1. The Belt Stretch
Equipment: a wide sturdy belt.
Sit on the ground and grab one end of the belt in each hand. Place the ball of one foot in the center of the belt. Keep the knee straight as you use the belt and the muscle at the front of the leg to pull your ankle back towards you.
Hold the stretch for 10 seconds then relax.
Repeat for up to 10 minutes then move on to the other foot, if needed.
2. The Heel Stretch
Equipment: a table or countertop
Spread your feet apart with one slightly in front of the other. Grab the corners of the table and lean forward. Bend your knees and squat down, keeping your feet flat on the ground for as long as possible.
Hold the stretch for 10 seconds - your fascia will stretch as your heel rises from the floor. Relax, stand straight up and repeat the exercise up to 20 times. Switch legs and repeat, if necessary.
3. The Calf Stretch
Equipment: a wall
Stand facing the wall, step one leg out in front of the other and place both palms against the wall.Keep both feet flat on the ground, your back leg straight (this is the leg to be worked). Bend the knee of the front leg as you lean forward into the wall.
Hold the stretch for 10 seconds – your fascia will stretch as you lean forward. Relax, stand straight up and repeat the exercise up to 20 times. If you are experiencing the discomfort of plantar fasciitis in only one leg, then ensure it is the one at the back.
4. The Calf Stretch – 2
Equipment: a wall
Stand facing the wall with one foot out in front of the other. Place both palms on the wall and bend both knees. Shift your weight onto your toes but ensure you keep your heels flat on the ground.
Hold the position for 10-30 seconds. Relax, stand straight up and repeat up to 20 times. Repeat with the other leg behind, if needed.
5. The Step Stretch
Equipment: a step
Stand at the edge of the step with your heels hanging off. Lower your heels to below the line of the step and then raise them back up again.
Relax and repeat, doing 3 sets of 10.
6. The Toe Curl
Equipment: a small towel
Place the towel on the ground and put one foot on top of it. Use your toes to scrunch the towel toward you then slowly smooth it away from you.
Relax and repeat for 3 sets of 10. Switch to using the other foot, if necessary.
7. The Marble Pickup
Equipment: marbles and a small container
Place the marbles and container on the floor. Use your toes to pick up each marble and placeit in the container. Repeat multiple times with one foot then use the other foot if it is also affected.
8. The Toe Stretch
Sit on a chair and extend your leg, keeping your heel on the floor. Reach down, grab your big toe then pull it up and back towards the ankle and away from the floor. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
Relax and repeat up to 4 times. Reposition to stretching the other foot, if needed.
Here’s a great video demonstrating six other ways to exercise your foot for plantar fasciitis relief. As the instructor explains, it is best to do these exercises before getting out of bed so that you do not stress the plantar fascia by applying weight to it.
Apart from exercise, there are several other ways you can keep plantar fasciitis at bay. WebMd Consider doing these:
- reduce your weight or maintain a healthy weight. The less weight your plantar fascia has to bear, the less likely it is to become damaged
- wear supportive, comfortable shoes with low to moderate heels
- avoid going barefoot on hard surfaces
- replace your worn out shoes as newer ones will give better support and shock absorbency
- switch to low-impact sports and exercise such as swimming and cycling
- apply ice to the area or give your foot a regular ice massage
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Have you been suffering from recurring plantar fasciitis inflammation and pain? I bet, at this point, you’ve started thinking that a costly surgery is the only thing that could possibly help. Put that thought out of your head, we can show you how to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis!
According to WebMD, only about 5% of plantar fasciitis cases require surgery - which is only considered as a last resort. The fact is, plantar fasciitis is very treatable on your own and at very minimal cost.
You just have to make a few simple changes, put in a little effort and your “persistent” plantar fasciitis could be gone – for good!
If you are looking to cure your plantar fasciitis, then I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ve already read quite a bit about it. So, let’s just do a quick overview here to ensure we cover all the bases.
Your plantar fascia is a tough sheath of connective tissue that runs along your sole from your heel to the underside of each toe. As the “itis" suggests, plantar fasciitis is when your plantar fascia becomes inflamed, swollen, painful and very uncomfortable.
The UK’s National Health Service advices that “sudden damage” and “wear and tear” are thought to be the root causes of plantar fasciitis. These may result from (among other things)
The pain and discomfort of plantar fasciitis tend to be worse first thing in the morning as you try to take those first steps out of bed.
Stretches and exercises for plantar fascia focus on the areas that lead to the condition. As such, it is a good idea to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles and Achilles tendons while you work on the plantar fascia itself.
One exercise to try is the Calf Stretch, where you stand facing a wall with one foot slightly in front of the other. Brace your palms against the wall and dip into your front knee, keeping the back leg straight and your heels on the ground.
There is also the Step Stretch in which you stand at the edge of a step with your heels hanging off. Slowly bounce on the step by lowering and raising your heels. You are sure to feel this stretch in the back of your legs as your calf muscles get to work.
The Dent Neurologic Institute suggest a series of stretches you can do while still in bed to loosen up your plantar fascia before subjecting them to having to bear your weight. This is a great way to relieve the “first step pain” of plantar fasciitis.
You can give yourself a foot massage by using your fingers to kneed and loosen up your plantar fascia. Heelthatpain.com suggests that using your thumbs to massage the plantar fascia in a circular motion will give you much needed relief.
The site also recommends that you “Focus on the base of your heel where your plantar fascia ligament meets your heel bone.” Another area to work is the ball of the foot down to the underside of the heel bone.
Ice massages are also very good at easing plantar fasciitis. Try freezing a water bottle or a golf ball and using it to roll your arch. You can also roll the entire sole of your foot, stopping to give different sections individual attention.
The curve of your spine gives your body a natural forward tilt which helps to distribute your weight evenly over your feet. With poor posture, however, that distribution becomes uneven, causing undue stress and strain on your heels and plantar fascia.
Correcting your posture will take some conscious effort on your part. Throughout the day, try to remind yourself to keep your body in alignment all the way from your neck, shoulders, torso, hips and knees down to your ankles.
Your shoes or shoe inserts can help you in correcting your posture. There are insoles that are sold specifically to help with this and to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Quite often, persons suffering from plantar fasciitis are warned by their healthcare provider to avoid going barefoot or wearing flip-flops. From the moment you step out of bed, you need to give your feet adequate support by wearing the right type of shoes.
Shoes that provide sufficient arch and heel support plus good shock absorbency are perfect for managing plantar fasciitis pain. If you are a runner or are involved in another sport then there are shoes readily available to provide you with plantar fasciitis relief.
When shoe shopping with plantar fasciitis look for shoes with
If you stop to think about it, you will realise that the soles of your feet actually have to bear the entire weight of your body. The more weight they have to bear, then the more stress they will be under as you stand and move around.
Reducing excess weight can do your plantar fascia a world of good. Your weight management routine should NOT involve high impact exercises, however, as these cause added stress to the plantar fascia. Cycling and swimming are great alternatives.
A physiotherapist, podiatrist, orthopaedist or trained massage therapist can offer you very real help and advice in the management of your plantar fasciitis. Apart from any procedure they may perform, you’ll get instructions on at-home treatment and exercises.
Dr. Donald DeFabio, a Chiropractic Orthopaedist uses a short, informative video to ably demonstrate a sample of two possible techniques used in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.