Plantar fasciitis, or heel pain, is one of the most common foot problems we treat here at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia. It’s usually caused by the same thing: inflammation of the plantar fascia.
The plantar fascia is a thick ligament on the bottom of your foot. It can become irritated and inflamed from excessive exercise, repetitive use such as running on a hard surface, and poor footwear choices. Aging and obesity play a role as well. As we get older or if we gain weight, our feet can flatten out and cause the plantar fascia to become inflamed, resulting in heel pain.
Targeted exercises for heel pain
One of the most effective treatments for relieving the pain of plantar fasciitis is exercise. Board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm explains that there are specific exercises you can do to accelerate the healing process:
- Calf stretches: press your hands up against a wall. With your uninjured foot forward, knee bent, and your injured leg behind you, press your injured heel flat against the floor until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for about 30 seconds, rest, and repeat.
- Towel stretches: sit down on the floor with your legs extended. Wrap a towel around the ball of your injured foot and grasp the ends with your hands. Gently pull the towel toward you so that your foot flexes. Hold for about 30 seconds, rest, and repeat.
- Sitting toe raises: sit in a chair, your feet flat on the floor. While keeping your heel planted on the floor, lift your foot and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Icy rolling: place your injured foot on a frozen water bottle and roll it back and forth. This massaging action releases tension in the plantar fascia while also delivering cooling, anti-inflammatory relief.