Connect Physical Therapy LLC

777 Echo Lake Road, Suite I

Watertown, CT 06795

Phone: (959) 209-4318

Fax: (959) 209-4336

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Have Heel Pain? A Few Stretches May Help.

November 27, 2017

If you're like me, you try to savor every last minute before having to get out of bed in the morning. This is especially true when the initial steps you take are limited by your heel pain. You find yourself limping and not being able to walk barefoot. 

 

The pain in your heel is present, but why is it there? What is it from?

 

If you experience:

- Heel pain that is increased with initial steps upon waking or following periods of inactivity

- Heel pain that increases with prolonged standing or walking

- Heel pain that increases while walking barefoot

 

...Plantar Fasciitis may be the cause.

 

This condition is one of the most common sources of pain on the bottom of the foot, specifically in the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that runs from your calcaneus (the heel) towards the ball of the foot. Its job is to act as a strut to support the arch of your foot while you walk, run, jump, etc. The plantar fascia is constantly stressed by the force and weight of the body pressing down against it. Sometimes, over time the origin of the plantar fascia, which is in the heel, can become inflamed. In some instances a bone spur may also develop, contributing to the inflammation and resultant pain that you feel.

 

Some predisposing factors for development of heel pain are:

- Low OR high arches

- Weakness of the smaller intrinsic muscles of your feet

- A quick increase in activity level

- Inadequate support in shoewear

- Obesity

- Limited ankle mobility

 

If you are noticing the symptoms listed above there are a few stretches that are pretty simple which you may try. One of the keys to  having your heel pain feel better is to make sure the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot and in the calf remains flexible. Limitations of flexibility may contribute to the pain that you are feeling.  

 

These following stretches may aid in reducing your heel pain:

 

Disclaimer: If you do not have a stretching strap you may substitute a towel, belt, or dog leash (something which can be hooked to your foot). You will also need a small ball (or a rolled up towel) and a smaller towel roll to prop your ankle up.

 

Gastrocnemius stretch while non-weight bearing

 

1) Prop your ankle on a small bolster

2) Hook a strap to the foot, towards the toes

3) Keep your knee straight and pull your foot back towards you, using your arms which are pulling on the strap

4) Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel stretching and pulling in your calf

5) Repeat 3 repetitions, at least 2 times a day

 

Soleus stretch while non-weight bearing

1) Prop your ankle on a small bolster

 

2) Hook a strap to the foot, towards the toes

3) Keep your knee bent over the top of a small ball or towel roll and pull your foot back towards you, using your arms which are pulling on the strap. Make sure to keep your ankle down so that your knee remains bent

4) Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel stretching and pulling in your calf

5) Repeat 3 repetitions, at least 2 times a day

 

Gastrocnemius stretch while standing

 

1) Stand near a wall or counter

2) Place your affected leg behind you with your toes facing forward or even slightly inward

3) Lean your weight forward onto your front leg, taking care to keep your back knee straight with your heel remaining on the ground. 

4) Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel stretching and pulling in your calf

5) Repeat 3 repetitions, at least 2 times a day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soleus stretch while standing

1) Stand near a wall or counter

 

2) Place your affected leg behind you with your toes facing forward or even slightly inward

3) Lean your weight forward onto your front leg, taking care to keep your back knee slightly bent with your heel remaining on the ground. 

4) Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel stretching and pulling in your calf

5) Repeat 3 repetitions, at least 2 times a day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plantar fascia stretch

 

1) Place your fingers over the big toe

2) Use your hand to pull your big toe up towards the ceiling

3) You should feel pulling and stretching in the bottom of your foot, even potentially in your heel

4) Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You should feel stretching and pulling in your calf

5) Repeat 3 repetitions, at least 2 times a day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These stretches may aid in the reduction of your heel pain. It is especially important to stretch in the morning or after periods of inactivity, as these are times where the soft tissue is most restricted. Try these consistently for 2 weeks. As your pain improves you will likely notice less discomfort in the morning, less pain with prolonged standing/walking and increased tolerance for weight bearing activities!

 

Should your pain continue,  a full evaluation by your physical therapist is recommended. In addition to stretching there are joint mobilizations, use of Graston or Kinesiotape and use of anti-inflammatory modalities which can be utilized to aid in your recovery!

 

As always it is our goal to lessen your pain and make you feel better!

 

Please feel free to sign up for a free consultation here

 

 

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