Best Stretches for Heel Pain

It can be as simple as climbing out of bed one morning, putting your foot down on the floor, and feeling that sudden rush of foot pain. It can be in the middle of a morning run or during your favorite cycling class. But no matter when it takes place, nothing is more miserable than that awful, stabbing heel pain.

So, you go see a doctor, or you scour the internet for information on what you might have done wrong when you are trying to do everything right. You are nervous because, with heel pain like this, it might throw off your workout schedule—and you were doing so great. Or you’re not even worried about the workout—the problem is that you can’t walk half a block without feeling the pain in the heel. 

We get it. We know that pain. It’s miserable. Go searching a little further, or ask your doctor, and you’ll hear the phrase plantar fasciitis—that’s the inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot. The pain stabs at the bottom of the foot close to the heel– but you know that.

So, what can be done to help you alleviate the pain so that you can get back to working out, and also ensure that the problem isn’t going to pop up again when you least expect it. The key is to stretch the muscles in and around the foot and the ankle. The stretching will relieve the tension and that, in turn, will relieve the inflammation. 

Here are six stretches that are great exercises for heel pain, and especially good exercises for plantar fasciitis. Add them all to your pre-and post-workout routines. You can even do the seated ones when you first wake up before you take that step off the bed. 

Rolling Stretch 

You are going to place an object on the floor under your foot then roll the object back and forth to massage the muscles through the sole and arch of the foot. You can use a golf or tennis ball, a rolling pin, or even a small foam roller. Make sure you try this stretch/massage while seated so that it is easier to control the amount of pressure that you put on the object. At first, the area may be especially tender, and you will want to take great care. But this stretch is great as it is something you can do casually while you sit and read or watch TV. Two or three minutes at a time is a great way to start.

Seated Foot Stretch

 Again, you are going to sit on the edge of a chair. One knee can stay bent with the foot on the floor. The other leg is straight out with only a slight bend to the knee, and the heel is on the floor. Very slowly you are going to tap your toes on the floor then pull your toes all the back to your shin. Repeat ten times, shake out your foot, then repeat the whole exercise two more times. As you go through the motion, try as much as possible to roll through your foot in both directions so that you are not simply flexing at the ankle joint but activating the muscles throughout the bottom of the foot, the calf, and the shin. 

Towel Curls

This exercise is great for warming up and stretching the muscles that run along the sole of the foot. Place a towel or a washcloth on the floor in front of your toes, then use your toes to draw the towel in toward your heels. Relax and shake out your feet, replace the towel in front of you, and do it again four or five more times. You can get the same warm-up effect if you have a thick carpet, and you claw at the shag with your toes. Make sure you take a break every ten to twenty seconds to shake out your feet. 

Marble Pick-Ups

This exercise is very much like the towel curl only a little more intense. You’ll need a handful of marbles. Set them on the floor in front of you. Now, pick them up one at a time with your toes. This movement helps to stretch the muscles along the bottom of the foot. 

Heel Raise 

This stretch gets a little more intense, so make sure you save this exercise for when you have been doing the others long enough to start to feel relief. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step. Slowly lower your heels down toward the next step down. You’re going to feel a stretch in your calves. Then, slowly start to rise up until your heels are high and you are up on the balls of your feet. Repeat this movement ten times then rest. Do a second set and call it a day. You want to be certain that the movement is slow and controlled and that you can support yourself with a banister or handrail by the stair. 

Seated Plantar Fascia Stretch 

First, still sitting in that chair, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Now flex your right foot so you are pulling your toes back toward the shin. As you hold the toes, run your hand along the sole of the foot and feel for the tense areas. Hold and breathe for ten seconds. Repeat two or three times.

Seek Professional Help for Your Pain

The most important thing to remember is that you have to do these exercises regularly for them to be effective. Seriously. It’s not enough to do them once or twice and expect everything to be better. Do them daily. Do them twice daily if you can. And do the exercises on the foot that is in pain and the other one as well—you don’t want any surprises to crop up in the other foot. 

Developing new habits will help take the pain away and keep it away so that you can truly enjoy your workout. 

Schedule an appointment online or call (414) 764-4500 for our Oak Creek office or (262) 821-1588 for our New Berlin office. We’ll be happy to set you on a good path toward much-deserved relief.

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