A frequent culprit that is responsible for causing heel pain is plantar fasciitis. This condition is very common among competitive athletes, weekend warriors, and for the multitudes who spend hours on their feet all day working including landscapers, teachers, and delivery personnel. One of the most effective methods for treating heel pain is to instigate strengthening and stretching exercises, preferably prior to, but also right after the first sign of pain, swelling, and discomfort.
Stretching exercises to prevent and treat heel pain
There are many steps you can take to keep the calf muscles and Achilles tendons strong and flexible enough to avoid putting too much stress on the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot between your heel bone and metatarsals.
Here are some excellent stretches that will help prevent the plantar fascia from becoming stressed and damaged by keeping the tissue flexible:
- Arch stretches—While sitting, place one foot across the opposing leg and pull back on the toes to stretch the underlying tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot.
- Step stretching—From a standing position on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off, slowly lower them until you feel a good stretch in your calf muscles and Achilles tendons and hold for a few seconds before raising and repeating the exercise ten or so times.
- Calf stretches—This exercise can be accomplished while facing a wall with one foot bending forward and the other foot back. Bend your knee in the front foot until you feel a stretch and hold for 20 seconds, release the tension, and repeat five times.
Foot and ankle strengthening exercises
Keeping up with your strength and flexibility is important so that you maintain the muscles that support the arch. This is also an excellent way to augment your recovery and to avoid chronic heel problems. Some of the strengthening exercises include calf raises, toe squeezes, and toe manipulation exercises including towel scrunching and picking up small rocks or marbles.
If you experience pain and discomfort in your heel that persists for more than a few days or weeks, it is best to consult with a foot care specialist and get everything under control. At Podiatry Center of New Jersey, Dr. Russell Samofal treats a variety of conditions such as sports injuries, diabetic foot problems, pediatric foot conditions, toe deformities, arthritis, nail fungus, arch problems and heel pain. Equipped with advanced technologies and a dedicated staff, Podiatry Center of New Jersey provides individualized high-quality care for patients all across Morris, Passaic, Bergen and Essex counties. For all your foot and ankle problems, contact our Wayne office at (973) 925-4111 for an appointment.