Heel pain is a common symptom of patients that seek help in our office. Heel pain affects athletic people as often as individuals that don't exercise. We are seeing heel pain so frequently that we have created a simple exercise routine that can prevent or alleviate it (in early stages). Follow these exercises and you will find significant improvement in both flexibility and associated pain.
- Stair Stretch - The Achilles tendon has been found to cause a majority of plantar fasciitis (heel pain) cases. A tight heel cord can even limit ankle joint motion and produces pain in the heel from stressing the ligament on the bottom of the foot (the plantar fascia). The stair stretch is performed by standing with the toes on the stair and dropping the heels to force a stretch in the calf muscle. This should be done in a series of 4-5 stretches (counting to 10 each time) and should be repeated throughout the day. Immediately following exercise is a great time to stretch out the calf muscle.
- Water Bottle Roll - By taking a water bottle and freezing it, you produce a specialized icing technique that will allow massage of the heel and arch area of the foot while icing to decrease inflammation. Place the waterbottle on the ground and roll your foot back and forth over it. This is ideal for an athlete to massage a tired foot and reduce risks of inflammed plantar fascia (or plantar fasciitis).
- Towel Stretch - This is a specialized stretching technique that can be done before getting out of bed in the morning. Hold a small hand towel in both hands and use it to pull the ball of your foot upward. This causes a stretch to the Achilles area and "warms up" the plantar fascia often reducing pain or stiffness when getting out of bed.
By participating in these three simple exercises, plantar fasciitis can often be treated or at least improved. It can also prevent the presentation of plantar fasciitis in many athletic individuals.