Whether you’ve conditions like plantar fasciitis, calf or heel pain, or normal arch, high arch (linked with supination), or low arch (flat feet that’s linked with overpronation) pain, you need to seek treatment instead of hiding the pain. Stretching exercises are effective in pain management and relief, and we will show you how to do the following exercises the right way –
- Plantar fascia stretch
- Plantar fascia stretch (kneeling)
- Plantar fascia self-massage
- Bilateral calf stretch (knees straight)
- Bilateral calf stretch (knees bent)
- Marble pick-ups
- Towel scrunches
- Heel raises on a step
Types of Stretches
Plantar fascia stretch
(i) Sit on a chair. Place the knee on which the pain is felt on top of the other knee.
(ii) With one hand, hold the heel of the foot and with the other hand, grab your toes.
(iii) Now you have to do two things at once. First, pull the heel towards yourself. At the same time, grab your toes with the other hand and pull them back.
(iv) A stretch will be felt along the bottom of your foot.
(v) Hold that position for about 15 to 30 seconds.
(vi) Repeat the whole process for two to four times.
Plantar fascia stretch (kneeling)
(i) On the floor, get down on your knees and hands. Your heels should point up. The balls of your toes and feet should touch the floor.
(ii) Sit back very slowly in the direction of your ankles.
(iii) If you find this step fairly difficult to follow, try it with one leg at a time rather than using both legs simultaneously.
For the one leg stretch , first get up on your feet and kneel on one knee while keeping the other leg in front. Keep the foot of the leg that is in front completely flat on the floor. Then bend that same knee. Point up the heel of the leg that is behind you, but the ball and toes of that foot need to be on the floor. Sit slowly in the direction of that ankle.
(iv) For about 15 to 30 seconds, hold that position.
(v) It’s essential to switch your legs if you do this stretch one leg at a time. Repeat the whole process two to four times.
Plantar fascia self-massage
(i) Take a chair and sit on it.
(ii) On a water bottle or any tube-shaped,firm object, place the foot which aches.
(iii) Now to massage your foot, roll it back and forth over the cylindrical object.
(iv) If you prefer an ice massage, follow the same process, but beforehand, fill 3/4th of the bottle with water and freeze it.
(v) Carry on this method for at least two to five minutes.
Bilateral calf stretch (knees straight)
(i) On the floor, place a square object or a book about 8 to 10 centimeters from the wall. Place the balls of your feet on it, but your heels have to be on the floor.
The book has to be thick enough to create a gentle stretch on each of your calves. If you feel wobbly, just hold a counter, chair or a wall to remain steady as you perform this stretch.
(ii) Now you need to do a forward lean with your knees completely straight. Continue the lean until you feel a stretch on either calf.
(iii) For a higher stretch, the key is to use thicker books such as encyclopedias, dictionaries or yellow books.
(iv) Keep stretching like this for 15 to 30 seconds.
(v) Do it again for two to four times.
Bilateral calf stretch (knees bent)
Repeat Steps i, iii, iv and v from the previous stretch. Just at Step ii, instead of keeping the knees completely straight, bend them and lean in front.
(i) Place a cup and some marbles on the floor. Keep them side by side.
(ii) Now, with the toes of your weak foot, lift a single marble from the floor each time and drop them in the cup.
(iii) Repeat this exercise for eight to twelve times in every session.
(i) Place a towel on the floor. Then sit down and lay your weak foot on the towel. It’s not a problem if you do this with both of your feet on the towel.
(ii) Now squeeze the towel using your toes. Again using your toes push the towel back to where it was.
iii) Repeat it eight to twelve times.
Heel raises on a step
(i) Stand in front of a staircase. You should be at the bottom step and the flight of stairs should be ascending in front of you, i.e. you have to climb upwards.
(ii) Place the balls of your feet on top of the step. In case you don’t feel steady, hold the wall or the banister for some balance.
(iii) Keep both of your knees upright. Gently lift your heels above the step in such a way that you stand right on the toes. Then fairly slowly put down your heels below the step and on the floor.
(iv) Keep your feet evenly on the step and get back to the starting position.
(v) Repeat the whole process eight to twelve times.
Just in case stretching doesn’t work, you could get quality arch support shoes that can help reduce pain and prevent future injuries. Over the counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) can also curb inflammation and pain