Heel pain can be caused due to numerous reasons, from wearing faulty footwear to having uric acid disorders. However, it is quite a discomforting condition which presents itself, not just during daytime activity but also immediately after a good night’s sleep. After proper diagnosis of your condition, some exercises can be helpful in reducing pain as well as leading to quicker recovery.
The wall and book stretch
Put a phone book or a couple of thick books on the floor about two feet away from a wall. Stand on the books so that your arches are supported but your heels overhang the back edge of the books. With your hands to either side of your face at shoulder width, slowly lean forward so that your hands are supporting your weight against the wall in front of you. Hold this position for fifteen seconds.
After the fifteen seconds are up, straighten your back while still supporting yourself with your hands on the wall. Lift up and down gently on the balls of your feet ten times. Next, change your position so that you are standing on your right foot only. Lean toward the wall, hold fifteen seconds, straighten up and do ten lifts on your right foot only. Finally, switch to your left foot and repeat the exercise.
This heel pain exercise gently stretches the plantar fascia ligaments, the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles, promoting better elasticity and healing. The Wall Stretch also has the added bonus of helping you build new, strong muscle tissue in your calves.
The water bottle stretch
Take a seat in a comfortable chair. Put a water bottle, tennis ball or rolling pin on the floor. Slowly roll the sole of your foot over the object from the ball of your foot to the heel of your foot for about a minute. If you are suffering from pain in both heels, you can do this stretch on both feet.
This exercise slowly stretches the plantar fascia ligament. Additionally, if you freeze the water bottle prior to doing this heel pain stretch, you can ice your foot while you exercise to minimise the pain and inflammation that is common in Plantar Fasciitis.
The stair stretch
Stand with the balls of both feet on the edge of a step or curb (or a medium-sized phone book). With at least one hand, hold onto something solid for balance, such as a banister or handrail. Keeping your affected leg straight, slowly let that heel hang down off the step or curb until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf and/or Achilles area. Some of your weight should still be on the other leg. Hold this position for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
Repeat 2 to 4 times a session, up to 5 times a day or whenever your Achilles tendon starts to feel tight. This stretch can also be done with your knee slightly bent.
Morning heel pain exercises
This is a series of three exercises intended to be performed before you get out of bed in the morning. First, sit up in bed with your legs together and fully extended in front of you. Slowly point your toes outward and downward ten times. Next, maintain your sitting position and wrap a belt, scarf or towel around the ball of your right foot, holding the ends of the item in each hand like the reigns of a horse.
Sitting up straight, use your arm strength to gently tug the ball of the foot toward your body, flexing the muscle. Hold the position for twenty to thirty seconds. Be sure you are using the strength of your arms – not your foot – to create the necessary stretch. Then, perform the exercise with your left foot.
Finally, use your thumbs and fingertips to gently massage the sole of your foot for several minutes. This is where your plantar fascia ligament is located and by doing a simple massage, you will warm up the ligament to help it bear your weight when you first get out of bed.
One of the most common symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis is heel and foot pain upon first stepping out of bed. These exercises warm up the muscles and ligaments of the feet preventing morning heel pain.
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