This annoying problem can easily keep you off your feet, making it hard for you to participate in your favorite activities (and even those activities you may not love so much, like taking out the garbage and cleaning the house).
What’s worse, when heel pain “puts you out of commission,” your chances of gaining weight, becoming less fit in general, and possibly even developing chronic foot conditions like arthritis can drastically increase! Before you know it, you are left in an endless cycle where heel pain starts to affect all other areas of your life and overall health.
But there is good news:
You can break this pattern by simply incorporating some stretching exercises into your daily routine. Although wearing appropriate footwear is also an important aspect of protecting your feet and ankles, today we will focus on how to properly perform stretches for your heel pain.
A comprehensive stretching program will help you return to your daily activities and restore the strength and flexibility you once had before heel pain kept you sitting on the sidelines. Even better – stretching will help you avoid foot and ankle injuries (including those that cause heel pain) from reoccurring after you have fully recovered.
Now, let’s get to the point – here is what you need know about stretching.
Some Things to Consider Before Stretching
Now, before you start any kind of physical activity, including stretching, it’s important that you warm up your body with some light exercise. Do some walking, run in place for a bit, or perform some jumping jacks for a few minutes.
And while you’re at it, here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Avoid bouncing when stretching and warming up – this can actually cause damage to your feet and ankles.
- Make sure you take your time – go slowly to get all the benefits.
- Use appropriate gear (including footwear) – make sure everything fits properly, is well-maintained, and designed specifically for your sports of choice.
- Don’t play through the pain. Instead, stop what you are doing, give your feet time to rest, and come visit our office.
Simple Stretches for Heel Pain
With all that being said (and done), you can finally get to the main focus. Here are some simple stretching exercises that will help relieve your heel pain:
- Ankle Pump Down. Point your foot and toes downward as far as you can go. You should feel your calf muscles flexing at the back of your leg. Hold this position for 10 seconds and release. Start with three sets of 10 exercises and work your way to doing three sets of 30 exercises.
- Straight Knee Wall Stretch. Line yourself up squarely in front of a wall and press your hands against the wall for balance. Place one foot behind you and the other just in front. Keeping both heels flat on the floor, press your hips forward until you feel a solid stretch along the entire calf. Hold for 30 seconds and release. Start with three sets of 10 exercises for each leg and work your way up to three sets of 30 exercises.
- Toe Pick Ups. Place a pile of 20 small objects on the floor (like jacks, hard candies, or tiny stones) and use your toes to pick them up and move them to another pile. Do three sets of this exercise three times per day.
- Toe Raises. Rise up onto your tiptoes as far as you can go without pain. Hold the position for 10 seconds, maintaining the tension, and release. Start with three sets of 10 exercises and work your way up to three sets of 30 exercises. As you get stronger, you can begin to do single leg toe raises, which places additional weight on each leg.
- Rolling Stretch. Sit on a tall chair, place a round object under the foot, then roll it back and forth. You can use a rolling pin, golf ball, or specialized foam roller for this. Continue this motion for about 2 minutes several times per day.
- Plantar Fascia Massage. Sit comfortably in a chair and cross one leg over the opposite knee. With one hand, pull your toes back until the foot is fully flexed. There should be tension, but no pain. With the other hand, massage the bottom of your foot immediately in front of the heel. Do this for 10 minutes three times per day.
You should keep in mind, however, that this does not mean stretching alone is enough to treat and prevent heel pain. In fact, whenever you experience any type of foot discomfort, you should come visit our office right away. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your feet and ankles in order to accurately diagnose your condition and provide the most beneficial treatment available. We’ll get you back on your feet as quickly and as safely as possible.