The best home exercises for heel pain
Heel pain is a condition that many, many people have experienced in their lifetime.
Every day we help many clients who are experiencing heel pain.
With many people being forced to stay at home or self isolate due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to show you all some effective and easy to do exercises that can help you manage your heel pain in your own home.
There are a number of clinical diagnoses for heel pain but the type we come across in our clinic is commonly referred to as Plantar Fasciitis.
Now, the research suggests the correct name for this condition is actually plantar fasciopathy, however, for most normal people (ie. not podiatry nerds like ourselves) the name of the condition does not really matter.
What matters most is how do we fix your plantar fasciitis and stop your pain.
What causes heel pain?
The plantar fascia is a large stone structure under the arch of your foot.
One of its many jobs is to help support the bones and ligaments in your feet that make up your arch when you walk or run.
If the plantar fascia is over-stressed or damaged, it can begin to develop changes that weaken it and make it less able to cope with the normal forces of your daily activities.
Once this happens it becomes weaker which leads to more damage which causes it to become weaker, which causes more damage which... can you see where I'm going here?
What does plantar fasciitis feel like?
There are a number of very similar symptoms that people with plant fasciitis all describe.
1. Morning pain
The first thing most people tell us about their plantar fasciitis is that they feel really sore first thing in the morning.
This pain is often described as "like a knife stabbing into my heel!"
However, after taking a number of steps (like walking to the bathroom first thing in the morning) this pain soon begins to settle.
2. After rest pain
Secondly, most people describe the pain that comes after they have been sitting for a while.
Like the morning pain, this tends to settle with a few steps
This after rest pain can occur when you get out of the car after a long-ish drive, after sitting to have your lunch, or even after sitting in one of our Welcome Room chairs!
3. Increased pain with activity
Most clients tell us that once the morning pain and rest pain settles, the heel does not feel too bad.
However, once they start to do more and more activity, their pain often gets worse and worse until it becomes debilitating.
4 Steps to reduce your heel pain
One of the most important things you can do to help fix plantar fasciitis is to manage your pain.
Step 1 - Manage your pain
If you can reduce your pain, you can build up with the right sorts of exercises which will get you feeling better faster.
The videos included below are exercises from our exercise prescription tool, PhysiApp.
Read more about PhysiApp HERE.
1. Practice your ABC's
Do this exercise first thing in the morning before you step out of bed.
2. The Ice bottle roll
The ice bottle roll is great for managing your pain after a busy day on your feet,
Step 2 - Change the load in the plantar fascia
When the plantar fascia is damaged we need to change the load in it to help it heal.
Many clients ask us if they should reduce their activity levels when they have heel pain?
If you feel you can continue your normal activity levels without your pain getting worse it is ok to continue.
However, if you are running every day and your heel pain is getting worse and worse, it is a good idea
Here are some simple ways to change the load in your plantar fascia.
1. Modify your activity levels
Swap activities like running for cycling, swimming or rowing.
Walk instead of running a couple of times per week.
Change up your activities so you are doing a variety of different activities an not just the same thing over and over again.
2. Change footwear
If your plantar fasciopathy started after you bought a new pair of shoes or if it is worse after wearing a particular pair of shoes, the simplest thing to do is to stop using those shoes.
Changes to footwear too quickly can cause increased strain on your plantar fascia.
Step 3 - Heal the damaged plantar fascia
Once we have started to get on top of your heel pain and reduced the load in your plantar fascia, it's time to help it to heel.
1. Self-massage for heel pain
2. Stretching for heel pain
Step 4 - Strengthen your plantar fascia
Once the damaged tissues in your heel and foot are feeling better, it is time to start strengthening the calf, heel and plantar fascia.
Here are the 2 most commonly prescribed plantar fascia strengthening exercises we recommend at COmplete Podiatry
1. Calf muscle strengthen
2. Plantar fascia strengthen with a rolled-up towel
Need more help with your heel pain?
Sometimes, when you have been living with heel pain for a long time, you can start to feel like it will never go away.
Every day at Complete Podiatry, our podiatrists help people to get back to doing the things they love to do without heel pain.
Yours in helping to build an amazing life from the feet up,
Director of Complete Podiatry