Heel pain can be caused by many things: plantar fasciitis, stone bruise, overtraining or wearing high heels often. Whatever the root cause, heel pain relief can be found by doing exercises and stretches for heel pain. The following is a list of 5 doctor recommended moves to relieve the pain in your heels.
1. Stair Stretches
This stretch can be done on anything with a raised ledge. What you want is a surface that allows your toes to support your body weight while your heel stretches downward. It is safest to hold onto something like a railing while doing this stretch. It is also important to start out very slowly. Ease your heel downward. You will also feel this stretch in your Achilles’ tendon and calf. When you feel the stretch in your heel, hold there for 15 seconds and slowly raise back up. Do this lift 10 times. If your heel pain is chronic, do this stretch as many times a day as needed.
2. Tennis Ball Stretch
In a seated position and with bare feet, place a tennis ball (or a water bottle, a rolling pin or anything rounded) under your foot. While applying gentle pressure, roll your foot back and forth on the object from your heel to the ball of your foot and back. Another tip: freeze a water bottle before using it to stretch your foot on. This ice treatment will help to reduce inflammation of the plantar fascia ligaments in your foot.
3. Marble Challenge
This is a challenging heel pain exercise but it works wonders by strengthening the ligaments in your feet. In a seated position, place a handful of marbles or pebbles within reach in front of you. Next to them, place a mug or cup. One by one, using your toes, pick up the objects and place them all in the mug. Do this with each of your feet, even if you’re only experiencing pain in one. This heel pain exercise takes some practice but if you do it 2 to 3 times a week for 5 to 10 minutes each time, you will strengthen the ligaments and muscles in the soles of your feet. This can relieve heel pain and keep it from getting worse.
4. Runner’s Stretch
You don’t actually have to be a runner to do this stretch. Stand with one foot positioned behind you. Slowly transfer your weight to that back foot and feel your heel lower as you do. Be very gentle with this stretch. Only go as far as you can – never force your heel down. Doing this stretch is great for the muscles in your calves as well as in your heels as it relieves tightness that can be causing your heel pain.
5. Good Morning Stretch
These are stretches to your feet and lower legs that you do every morning before you even get out of bed. These exercises/stretches are in three stages:
- In bed, sit up with your legs fully extended in front of you. Keeping your legs together, carefully point your toes downward and outward ten times.
- Next, you’ll want to have a scarf, belt or towel handy. Wrap that around the ball of one foot as if holding the reigns of a horse. Using your arms, pull your foot gently toward you. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then do the same to your other foot. This improves circulation as well as stretches the ligaments and tendons in your feet.
- Lastly, use your fingers and thumbs to massage the sole of each foot. Do this for several minutes. Along the soles of your feet is your plantar fascia ligament. Massage warms up these ligaments before you put any weight on them by standing up.
Performing these three “rituals” every morning will bring a great amount of relief to your heel pain. When done in combination with the above referenced stretches and exercises you can minimize or eliminate heel pain altogether.
Possible Causes of Heel Pain:
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Repetitive striking of the heel on hard surfaces
- Being overweight
- Neuropathy (nerve damage), common with diabetes, lyme disease, kidney disease
- Heel spurs
- Stone bruises
- Heel tendonitis
Heel pain is very hard to live with, as we all have things to do and lives to lead – all of which require getting from one place to another using our feet. The good news is that heel pain treatment can reduce or even eliminate pain with these simple stretches and exercises. In addition to the above mentioned moves, make sure your shoes are supportive and that you replace worn shoes with new ones. A good rule of thumb is that if you wear a single pair of shoes every day, you should replace them every three months. As with all types of pain, if it persists, please consult your doctor.