“Walking is the best possible exercise” if you’ve heard that phrase as a plantar fasciitis sufferer it probably makes you wince. But exercising your way out of pain might be worth looking into. What top 3 exercises do experts consider to be the best way to ease away the pain of chronic heel discomfort?
Early on in the diagnosis of plantar fasciitis it’s vital to get the balance right between light exercise to stretch and strengthen your inflamed plantar fascia ligament and rest which will allow the tears and strains to heal. So, with that in mind, start your exercise regime lightly and be gentle on yourself and your inflamed feet.
We tend to think of exercise as vigorous activity, but that may be what has caused the condition in the first place, if you’ve done too much running, power walking, jogging or ball court sports. Instead opt for our top 3 basic stretch and flex exercises that avoid weight bearing altogether and can be carried out in a seated or supported position in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
Sit comfortably on a chair and place your foot on a tennis ball or rolling pin, some find a chilled bottle of wine does the job for arch rolling! You want something curved that will support the shape of the arch of your foot as you gently move it back and forward to ease the pain. Repeat as necessary. If you are able to progress to standing then do so – but gently. It’s probably best to use a tennis ball for this.
You may want to follow this exercise with a gentle toe stretch. Simply place each heel in turn on the floor, reach forward and pull your big toe up and towards you holding for approximately 20 seconds. Aim for 4 reps on each foot, several times a day.
Another great seated activity is the towel stretch. You can do this by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretch in front of you. Place a lightweight flexible towel under the ball of your foot. Pull the towel gently towards you without bending your knee to allow the foot to gently flex for approximately 30 seconds. Aim for 4 reps on each foot. Try to do this daily and feel the give in your calf and foot.
Any more activities?
If you’re keen to keep your entire body active as part of general health and wellbeing but can’t stand the pain of walking or running, consider swimming or gentle cycling. Both forms of exercise, if undertaken gently, will allow you to flex and stretch your feet without having to bear the weight of your body. This should help you feel lifted.
If for whatever reason you’re unable to undertake exercise, maybe through injury or disability, you might consider a device for shockwave therapy to the injured area.
Next week: Shockwave therapy for heel pain – does it work?
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