Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) Relief thru Stretching
Heel pain is something that millions of people suffer from every year. The causes are simple. Feet get a lot of abuse. The repeated pounding from running or jogging, the pressure of a job that keeps you on your feet, or simply walking around in ill-fitting shoes can all contribute to heel pain.
The most common cause of heel pain happens when stress is placed on the plantar fascia ligament. The fascia is like a rubber band that stretches between your heel and your toes. When it's stretched irregularly, small tears and inflammation can result. If left untreated, the condition known as plantar fasciitis can get very painful, very quickly. Symptoms can include an aching, burning or stabbing pain that strikes the bottom of the heel.
Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include those who have excessive pronation (their feet roll inward too much when they walk), the overweight, people with excessively high arches and those with flat feet. You're also at risk if you stand, walk or run on hard surfaces, if you've got a tight Achilles tendon, tight calf muscles or you've experienced sudden weight gain.
If you're dealing with heel pain, some things have been shown to help reduce or even eliminate the pain. Stretching exercises can help the ligament become more flexible. Strengthening exercises help build support for the arch and reduce stress on the ligament. Here are some specific suggestions.
This may seem obvious, but don't do anything that makes the pain worse. You might just need to take some time off and rest. It's better to spend a few days recuperating rather than weeks or months laid up from a serious injury.
Check your shoes. Make sure they fit correctly and that your arches are properly supported. Ask a podiatrist to analyze your feet and the way you walk. Then they'll be able to recommend specific brands and models of shoes that'll give you the most support.
Reduce the impact on your feet by avoiding any runs on concrete. Look for running tracks or level grass. If you stand in one place, get a shock-absorbing mat.
Plantar fasciitis pain is often more intense first thing in the morning. The plantar fascia tends to tighten while we sleep. To get some relief, flex your foot up and down 8 to 10 times before getting out of bed. Then, periodically throughout the day, use the following instructions to stretch your Achilles tendon, arches and hamstrings.
Achilles tendon stretch. Stand facing a wall. Place the toes of one foot against the wall and step back with the other foot. Keep both feet firmly planted flat on the floor. Lean forward, bending the knee of the forward foot, keep the back leg straight and stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat with the opposite foot. Perform this stretch a few times each day.
Arches stretch. Take off your shoes and socks, then step up on a stair and rest on the balls of your feet. Lower your heels until you feel your arches stretch and hold it for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat at least 5 times. Hold onto a handrail for balance.
Hamstring towel stretch. Sit down on the floor with your legs straight out and your toes pointed up. Take a rolled-up towel and put it under the ball of your foot. Hold onto the ends and slowly pull the towel toward you, then hold that position for 10 to 20 seconds. Keep your knee straight and repeat the move 3 or 4 times.
For a final step, use cold therapy to reduce the inflammation. Grab a can of frozen juice and put it on the floor in front of you. Sit down in a chair and roll the juice under the arch of your foot that has plantar fasciitis. You should feel the muscles relax and relief come quickly from the cold.
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