By Rehan Iqbal
Just like the rest of your body, your feet will be healthier and stronger if you stretch and exercise regularly and develop healthy lifestyle habits. There are lots of easy and enjoyable foot exercises and stretches that you can do every day to avoid and relieve plantar fasciitis. In this article, we discuss this common foot problem and describe five good exercises and six smart tips that you can use at home to strengthen your feet and ankles to conquer plantar fasciitis.
How Long Does It Take to Heal Plantar Fasciitis?
With just rest and good foot support, you can expect plantar fasciitis to resolve within eighteen months. With a focused program of stretching, exercise, diet, rest and supportive footwear you can speed this up to a six month period of time. Try these five exercises to help heal plantar fasciitis.
1. Stretch Your Calves
If the calves of your legs, your ankles and your feet are tight, you're very likely to develop plantar fasciitis. Use this stretch to loosen your calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia.
Put the palms of your hands against a firm, sturdy wall. Put one foot forward and the other foot back in a modified lunge. Straighten the back leg and bend the front leg, keeping both feet firmly on the ground. You'll feel a good stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds and then switch. Repeat two or three times on each leg.
2. Roll Your Soles
Sit on a chair or stool that keeps your thighs parallel to the ground and allows you to completely straighten your lower leg with your knee bent at a 90° angle. Place an object such as a rubber ball, golf ball, tennis ball, foam roller or water bottle filled with warm, cold or frozen water on the floor in front of you. Roll your bare or stocking foot over the object for a solid two minutes. Switch to the other foot. Do this a couple of times a day to loosen and exercise the muscles in the soles of your feet.
3. Stretch Your Plantar Fascia
While you're sitting on that chair, cross one heel over the opposite knee. Hold your foot steady with one hand and use the other hand to pull all five toes up firmly and gently toward your shin to stretch the arch of your foot. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds with two or three repetitions. Remember to do both feet.
4. Flex Your Feet
You can flex your feet while sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you using an elastic band, a towel or a scarf. This is good for an intense stretch. You can do one foot at a time or both feet together. Perform ten repetitions of thirty seconds each on both feet.
For more casual foot flexes, point and flex your feet, do windshield wipers (toes back and forth) and circle your feet any time you are sitting in a chair. Keeping your feet and ankles active helps increase blood circulation which adds up to less inflammation and less pain.
5. Exercise Your Toes
Keeping your toes strong also keeps your arches, ankles and calves strong. Practice picking things up with your toes. Classic exercises include pulling a towel towards you with your toes, bunching it up and then spreading it out again.
You can also pick up pebbles, marbles, pencils, walnuts and other small objects with your toes and move them from one place to another. Doing this for five or ten minutes a day with each foot will help keep your feet strong and flexible.
Develop Good Foot Care Habits
Follow these six tips to alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis and keep your feet comfortable.
1. Chill Your Feet
If you are experiencing a great deal of pain, try soaking your feet in cold water or applying ice. For twenty minutes at a time. After the first twelve hours, you can switch to heat for comfort.
2. Provide Support
Compression with an ace bandage wrapped properly around your foot can help reduce inflammation and swelling as well as pain.
3. Improve Circulation
Whenever you are resting, elevate your feet above the level of your heart. This will help improve your circulation and provide a good rest.
4. Wear The Right Shoes
5. Massage Your Feet
Whenever you are resting, and after practicing your foot stretches and exercises, give your feet a treat with a good massage. Use a good quality foot moisturizer containing peppermint, mint or menthol to provide a soothing sensation.
6. Try Alternative Therapy
If home remedies don't provide good relief within a week or two, see your doctor and ask about therapies such as cortisone injections, physical therapy, acupuncture and/or chiropractic treatments. These and many other fairly simple treatments may provide complete relief without surgery.
Don't Ignore It!
You may think that the pain in your feet will go away. Just muscle through it, but this is never the case. Take your foot pain seriously and take care of it both at home and through proper medical care. Doing so will help ensure good overall health and mobility.