If you are a person who happens to spend plenty of time on your feet each day, as parents and teachers often do, you may find yourself experiencing a foot condition known as plantar fasciitis. A painful condition that you notice especially when you first get out of bed each morning or when you stand up after you’ve been sitting for quite awhile, plantar fasciitis is characterized by a sharp pain in your heel. Though it can be attributed to such factors as being on your feet for long periods at a time, overexertion when running, or even being overweight, it is still not clear to doctors why some people experience this condition and others do not. While it will usually clear up on its own after a few months, we at Dean Chiropractic have a few suggestions for exercises you can do along the way to help speed up the process.
Simple exercises you can perform two or three times per day without pain, we have found calf stretches to be a very effective way for many of our patients to relieve plantar fasciitis pain, which is almost always worse when you have muscle tightness in your legs and feet. To start, put both hands on a wall, while keeping both of your feet on the ground. Next, straighten the leg that’s bothered by plantar fasciitis and bend your knee on the non-affected leg. Upon doing so, you should feel a stretching sensation in the calf and heel of your leg that is extended. When you do, try to hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.
Plantar Fascia Stretches
While stretching your calf can be helpful in relieving plantar fasciitis pain, we also suggest you try stretching the plantar fascia itself. For this exercise, you can sit in a chair and cross the leg with the injured heel over your other leg. Holding your injured foot in the opposite hand, you simply pull your toes toward your shin, thereby creating tension in your foot’s arch. While doing so, take your other hand and place it on the bottom of your foot to see if you can actually feel tension in your plantar fascia. Like calf stretches, hold this stretch for up to 15 seconds, and repeat once or twice more.
Here at Dean Chiropractic, we are big fans of the foot flex to help with plantar fasciitis. Since flexing your foot instantly increases blood flow to your foot, this will help alleviate calf muscle tension and alleviate your pain. For this exercise we recommend using an elastic stretch band, although a large and long bath towel can also be used. To start, sit down on the floor and straighten your legs. Then wrap your band or towel around your foot, being sure to hold its end with your hands. When ready, start to gently point your toes away from your body, then return them to the starting position. By repeating this 10 times, you should notice a significant decrease in your plantar fasciitis pain.
If you want to jazz things up a bit when working to get rid of your plantar fasciitis pain, our suggestion is to do what’s known as a rolling stretch. Very simple and fun to do, this exercise consists of you placing a round object under your foot and then rolling it back and forth. In doing so, you will loosen up your foot muscles and decrease the muscle tension, a perfect combination that results in far less pain. When trying this exercise, you can use a specialized foam foot roller or something as simple as a golf ball or even a rolling pin from your kitchen. Once you’re ready to give this a try, sit down in a chair while maintaining as tall a posture as possible. Then, just place the round object of your choice under the arch of your foot, and roll it around for two or three minutes. A favorite of many of our patients here at Dean Chiropractic, some people liken it to getting a relaxing foot massage.
While you may have used a towel earlier to do your foot flexes, that same towel can be used to do what we refer to as towel curls. A great exercise to do just as you are waking up each morning and before you start walking around doing your many daily tasks, towel curls are very effective at stretching your calf and foot muscles. To get started, you can either sit down in a chair or even on the edge of your bed. Keeping both of your feet flat, you then put the towel in front of your feet. For this exercise, we recommend using a hand towel, washcloth, or even a larger towel if that’s all you have handy at the moment. When you and your towel are in position, try grasping the center of the towel with your toes, then curling the towel towards you. By repeating five or six times, your foot will become much more relaxed.
Last but certainly not least, who doesn’t love having an excuse to play with marbles? If you’re like us here at Dean Chiropractic, there’s nothing better than spending a few minutes playing with those exquisitely-colored marbles. But in your case, playing with marbles will not only be fun, but also help rid you of your plantar fasciitis pain. An exercise known as marble pickups, using your toes to pick up marbles will be a fantastic way to stretch and flex your foot muscles. For this activity, you’ll need to sit in a chair while having your knees bent and both feet flat on the ground. Next, take 20-25 marbles and place them and a bowl near your feet. When ready, your goal will be to pick up one marble at a time by curling your toes to grasp the marble. Once your toes have secured the marble, place it into the nearby bowl. Repeat this exercise until all the marbles are off the floor and in the bowl. Though you may at times have been advised to not place all your eggs in one basket, placing all your marbles in one bowl will pay big dividends in this case.
While you are giving any or all of these exercises a try for your plantar fasciitis, we also have a few suggestions as to various home remedies you can try. First, there is RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Once you first start noticing your foot pain, keeping off your injured foot as much as possible can always help. Also, you can apply ice to the area for about 20 minutes to help decrease inflammation. Should there be swelling, you can use a soft wrap for compression, then elevate your foot by placing a few soft and fluffy pillows underneath it. In fact, when you are sleeping, elevating your foot can be a smart way to help your foot feel much better when you wake up the next morning.
While the above-mentioned exercises and using some home remedies such as RICE can usually be very effective in dealing with plantar fasciitis, you may find the time comes when you need additional medical treatment. However, this doesn’t mean surgery, since plantar fasciitis rarely requires surgical intervention. Instead, we are talking about physical therapy, cortisone injections, and of course chiropractic therapy, which has been shown to help many people find relief from plantar fasciitis. For some people, gaining additional arch support for their foot through using specialized shoe inserts can also be helpful.
If you are tired of enduring foot pain day after day due to plantar fasciitis, trying any or all of these exercises may finally get you the relief you have been seeking. If you would like to learn more about these exercises or other ways chiropractic treatment may be beneficial to your condition, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Dean Chiropractic. Once you do, we’ll listen to your concerns and do all we can to once again make standing on your feet a pain-free experience.