Heel Pain Stretches & Massage

Heel Pain Stretches & Massage

You get up in the morning and you feel a sharp pain in your heel as you get out of bed. Heel pain makes everything from doing household chores to running errands incredibly painful. One of the most common causes is known as plantar fasciitis (or plantar fasciopathy).

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the muscle that connects the heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed or overused. The pain is often worse with the first few steps you take in the morning but often decreases as you move around. However, it might return after long periods of standing or getting up from sitting awhile. The condition is often more common in runners from the high impact on the feet, but can occur in anyone.

The good news is that you can reduce some heel pain with some basic stretches and massage. You can do these right in your home and each only takes a few minutes to complete.

The Water Bottle Stretch

A key component to reducing heel pain is gently stretching the plantar fascia at the bottom of the foot. Start this exercise but sitting down in a comfortable chair. Then lift up one foot and place a filled water bottle under the arch. Gently roll back and forth from the heel to the ball of the foot. Repeat about 10 times, then switch to the other foot.

Note that you should be applying some degree of pressure as you roll back and forth but not so much that you feel pain. Using a frozen water bottle also makes this exercise much more effective as it helps to reduce inflammation but you can use other massage tools like a rolling pin or even a tennis ball.

Calf Muscle Stretches

Muscle tightness in the calves can often worsen heel pain. The gastrocnemius is one of two major muscles (along with the soleus muscle) that make up the calves and connect to the Achilles tendon. Stretching these muscles helps to reduce tightness contributing to heel pain.

Start by facing a wall about an arm’s length away and place both palms on the wall. Then place the foot you want to stretch one step behind the other leg and slowly bend your front knee until you feel your calf stretch in the other leg. Hold the stretch for about 15 to 30 seconds. Then release and change legs.  It is important to stretch both legs. This can be repeated several times a day.

Hand Massages

In addition to the stretches above, there are also a number of hand massages you can perform to manage your heel pain. For many people, heel pain tends to be the most intense in the morning. Try these hand messages as soon as you get up before putting weight on your feet.

Start by sitting down and crossing one leg over the over. Then work both of your thumbs in circular motions along the length of your sole from the heel to your toes and back again. Start off gently at first then gradually increase the pressure but not too much. While you’re still seated, another good massage is to use the heel of your opposite hand. Start slowly at first as you work your way through the sole of your foot and gradually increase the pressure to loosen up the plantar fascia tissue.

If the heel pain does not resolve itself after 4 weeks of following these stretches and massages, then be sure to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to diagnose and treat the condition.

Send an email to michael@mrpodiatrist.com.au, book online at www.mrpodiatrist.com.au or feel free to leave us a message on our contact form.