Heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis requires rest and can be slow to heal without the proper treatment. It is a condition that is especially common in runners and other athletes who engage in repetitive motions that apply excessive pressure on the arches. For many athletes, it can become a condition that rears its ugly head from time to time, so the best way to treat heel pain is through prevention.
Preventing with stretches
Stretching the tissues that support the arch can help prevent the plantar fascia (connective tissue that runs along the arch) from becoming overstretched/used. Keeping the calf and Achilles flexible can avoid overloading the plantar fascia.
- Calf stretch – Face a wall with one foot bent forward and one straight foot back. Bend the front knee until you feel a stretch, and hold for 30 seconds.
- Step stretch – Stand with your heels hanging off of a step or ledge. Slowly lower the heels down until you feel a stretch in your Achilles and calf.
- Arch stretch – While sitting, bring one foot across your lap and pull toes back to give the plantar fascia a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Strengthening with exercises
While keeping tissues flexible is important, strengthening the muscles supporting the arch can also help avoid recurring plantar fascia.
- Calf raises – Stand straight and lift your heels.
- Toe squeeze – Wrap an elastic band around your toes. Slowly stretch the band by spreading your toes and release.
- Towel scrunch – Place your foot on top of a small towel. Use your toes to scrunch the towel towards you, then push back and release.
If you develop any pain or discomfort, always consult with a foot care specialist for the most accurate and effective treatments. Dr. Russell Samofal of Podiatry Center of New Jersey provides quality podiatric care for a variety of foot and ankle conditions. Anything from sports injuries to toe deformities or diabetic foot problems, Dr. Samofal will ensure you can get back on your feet! Please contact us or call our Wayne office at (973) 925-4111!