December 15, 2020/Wellness

How Yoga Can Help Ease Heel Pain From Plantar Fasciitis

Treat your feet to easing stretches

woman with heel pain

Contributor: Judi Bar, Lead Yoga Therapist and Yoga Program Manager -Wellness and Preventive Medicine

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Can’t wait to head off to your vacation in the Rockies and try out those new hiking boots? The day is beautiful, the weather’s great and you feel lucky to be alive. That is, until the next morning when you feel a stabbing pain in your heel.

This pain, known as plantar fasciitis, can be caused by a number of things, but typically our footwear and extended periods of walking are the culprits. Yoga postures that stretch and strengthen the legs and feet can help reduce and even relieve plantar fasciitis.

Yoga and Mindfulness for a Healthy Heart

When doing these suggested poses, please listen to your body. There should be no pain in yoga, especially in your joints. Only move through to a moderate stretch.

Watch the video for a demonstration of these poses, which can be done sitting or standing. You’ll find the descriptions below for reference.

  • Basic seated posture – Sit at the front edge of your chair with your spine lengthened, tummy pulled in slightly, chest lifted, shoulders relaxed down and away from your ears, feet on the floor and knees directly over ankles. Breathe gently and evenly.
  • Basic standing posture – Standing straight, feet hip-width apart, feet pointed forward, legs active, tummy pulled in slightly, chest lifted, shoulders back and dropped away from ears, gaze forward, crown of head lifted, neck and spine lengthened. Breathe gently and evenly.
  • Seated straight leg foot and ankle warm-ups – From your basic seated posture, extend your legs straight in front of you with the knees straight and your heels on the floor. Start by wiggling your toes. Next, warm up the ankles by flexing and extending both feet, pointing your toes toward you and away from you. Loosen the ankles further by drawing circles with your feet. First one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction. Do this for three to five breaths.

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  • Seated straight leg hamstring stretch – Stay in this warm-up position with the legs long. Make sure feet and toes are pointed up and not to the side. With a lengthened long back, gently lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and the back of your legs. Hold while breathing gently and evenly, about three to five breaths. This helps loosen tight muscles and gently stretches the connective tissue in your back and legs.
  • Prancing feet – Now take your basic standing posture. Gently lift your right heel off the ground and roll onto your right toes. Place heel back on the ground and repeat the movement on the left side. Alternate sides. You may hold onto the back of a chair to aid with balance. This builds flexibility in the toes and stretches the arch of the foot.
  • Calf and Achilles stretch – In a basic standing pose, stand tall with your feet parallel. Extend your right leg back behind you while keeping your feet parallel and gently bend the left knee. While keeping the right leg straight, gently lower the right heel until it is flat on the floor. Be sure to keep your back foot and toes pointing straight ahead. Activate a stretch of the Achilles tendon and calves by bending the left knee and pressing the back heel down. You can gauge the depth of the stretch by how deep you bend the front knee. Repeat on the other side.

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