Because we need to walk on them, you would think our feet have adapted to be able to withstand a significant amount of strain and stress. And they have. But sometimes, you push components in your feet past your limit.
When that happens with your plantar fascia — the thick band of tissue connecting your heel bone to the base of your toes — you can run into problems with each step you take. When you have inflammation in this tissue, you’re stuck with a stabbing pain in your heel. This pain is usually worse when you first wake up or right after you get up from sitting for a while.
Fortunately, because we specialize in heel pain, we can help. William T. DeCarbo, DPM, FACFAS, and our team at Greater Pittsburgh Foot & Ankle Center offer a variety of plantar fasciitis treatments here at our office in Wexford, Pennsylvania. Those range from orthotics to medication.
For many people, though, some simple at-home stretches go a long way toward relief. Here are five you can try for yourself.
Sit in a chair that allows your feet to rest comfortably on the ground. Then, slide a towel under your feet.
Using the toes of one foot, scrunch up the towel. Let your toes relax, then repeat, for a total of 10 reps. Switch to the other foot.
Stand facing a wall. Step one foot behind you. Bend into the knee of the front leg and, using your hands on the wall for support, lean forward to stretch the calf of your back leg.
Hold for at least 30 seconds, then switch to the other side. Stretch on both sides at least a few times.
Grab a tennis ball, golf ball, foam roller ball, or even a water bottle. Sit in a chair and use the rounded object to roll about the length of your arch. Keep rolling that foot for two minutes, then switch and repeat with the other foot.
To address the inflammation in your plantar fascia and bring you added relief, you can also try this stretch with a frozen water bottle.
Sit with your legs extended out in front of you. Loop a towel, strap, or even a large T-shirt around the ball of one foot, then use that loop to gently pull the foot toward you. Hold for at least one minute, then switch to the other side.
If you have bad heel pain when you first get out of bed, try leaving your strap on your nightstand. Do this stretch in bed before getting up to see if it helps ease your discomfort.
In a chair, cross one leg so that the ankle is on top of the thigh of your other leg. Use one hand to pull the toes of the foot on your thigh toward the shin. You can also use your other hand to gently massage the sole of your foot. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Pair these stretches with rest to give your plantar fascia time to heal its inflammation. If a week or so of stretching and resting doesn’t bring you relief, call our office or book your appointment online to explore other treatments.