How to relieve pain in heels caused by Plantar Fasciitis
An estimated 2 million Americans experience plantar fasciitis every year. Plantar fasciitis is typically caused by excessive stress placed on the plantar fascia while walking, running, and standing, which leads to inflammation around the bottom of your foot. The stress usually occurs as a result of your foot remaining in a pronated state for a longer period than it should.
During a regular gait cycle, there are two main phases – the compression phase (pronation) and the propulsive phase (supination). If we remain in a pronated state for too long, this impacts our shock absorption while standing, walking and running and leads to excessive stretching of the plantar fascia.
Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain and inflammation in or around your heel. People often feel this pain either first thing in the morning or after a long day on their feet.
The good news is that you can relieve this pain on your own through consistent, targeted lengthening and strengthening exercises. You can also use orthotic insoles or compression foot sleeves to help with arch support, shock absorption, and stability.
What are the best insoles for Plantar Fasciitis?
While it is not the only successful product out there for relieving heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis, the Superfeet Green Full Length Insole is a popular choice.
The Superfeet Green Insoles are vegan and free of latex, nickel sulfate, formaldehyde, and preservatives. They are designed with an organic odor-controlling coating, offer a deep structured heel cup for support, and have a biomechanical shape to help stabilize your foot and reduce stress on your feet, ankles, and knees.
What are some exercises I can do to help my Plantar Fasciitis?
There are a variety of simple exercises you can do to lengthen and strengthen your lower body muscles and reduce the stress placed on your plantar fascia.
The Prehab Guys offer an in-depth article with video tutorials explaining the biomechanics behind different stretches, exercises, and movements that can help your plantar fasciitis, and below is just a quick run down of their helpful tips.
1. Windlass Mechanism Exercise
Step 1: Sit in a chair with both feet placed flat on the floor.
Step 2: Raise the arch of your foot by sliding your big toe toward your heel WITHOUT curling your toes or lifting your heel. Do NOT COMPENSATE.
Step 3: Hold the position for 2 seconds then relax.
Once you feel comfortable performing the short foot movement, you can gradually progress to performing the exercise while standing and then eventually from a single-leg standing position.
2. Active Isolated Stretching for the Gastroc Soleus Complex
Step 1: Sit with both legs straight out in front of you.
Step 2: Loop the rope around the foot of your exercising leg (still straight).
Step 3: From your heel, move your foot back toward your ankle, using the rope for a gentle assist at the end of the movement.
Pro Tip: Placing a ball behind the leg is an added bonus to improve the tissue quality of the calf musculature. A bent knee will allow you to more specifically stretch the soles.
3. Lateral Step Down
Step 1: Start with both feet on top of a step.
Step 2: Next, slowly lower the unaffected leg down off the side of the step to lightly touch the heel to the floor.
Step 3: Then return to the original position with both feet on the step.
Remember to maintain proper knee alignment. The knee should be in line with the 2nd toe and not passing in front of the toes.
Pro Tip: If you do not have a step, a box works just as well for this exercise.
4. Hip Strengthening Exercise
Step 1: Place a theraband above the knees and get into a mini squat position.
Step 2: With one leg forward in a slightly bent position, step back with the opposite leg and then step forward again.
The goal is the maintain stability on the stance leg and KEEP TENSION on the outside of the band at all times to sufficiently activate the glutes.
5. High Load Strength Training
Step 1: Fold a towel under the toes so there is greater toe extension and thus greater tension through the plantar fascia at the top of the motion. The towel underneath the heel specifically targets the windlass mechanism (slant boards can also be used in place of a towel).
Step 2: Every calf raise consists of a three second concentric phase (going up) and a three second eccentric phase (coming down) with a 2 second isometric phase (pause at the top of the exercise).
At the bottom of the calf raise, the calves are stretched if you go down far enough, which helps correct the tight calf muscles often associated with plantar fasciitis.
Do not rush this exercise.
To learn more about each exercise, be sure to visit https://theprehabguys.com/plantar-fasciitis-prehab/