Fast Fixes for Aching Feet: Yoga for Plantar Fasciitis
I remember the morning I started to get out of bed and was in excruciating pain as soon as I tried to stand. When the pain persisted over several weeks, I headed to my local podiatrist who diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation or micro-tearing of the soft tissue along the arch of the foot. This tissue, or plantar fascia, is a thick, web-like ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. It acts as a shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot, helping you walk.
One of the most common orthopedic complaints, plantar fasciitis affects one-in-ten adults between the ages of 40 and 60. The pain typically starts in front of the heel on the big toe side of the foot, but without treatment, eventually spreads into the arch. It can be caused by a number of things:
- overstretching and overuse,
- structural factors, such as very high arches, flat feet, tight calves and hamstrings,
- being overweight or obese,
- standing or running on hard surfaces for extended periods of time,
- wearing shoes with soft soles and poor arch support
Overwhelmingly, poor fitting or worn footwear is the culprit. Simply changing your shoes to ones that are more supportive can go a long way to easing your pain. Your doctor may also prescribe inserts for your shoes, night splints and/or exercises, among other treatments.
In addition to your doctor’s recommendations, try sleeping with the bedclothes loose around your feet and ankles. This prevents the feet from pointing a down, a position that shortens the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. Additionally, keep a water bottle in your freezer and use it to roll the soles of your feet several times a day. The cold will reduce inflammation and help ease discomfort.
Since plantar fasciitis pain is most debilitating first thing in the morning, let’s look at some exercises you can do before your feet ever hit the floor.
Foot and Ankle Warm Ups
Lying in bed, start by wiggling your toes. This helps to bring circulation to your feet. Next, warm up your toes and ankles by flexing your toes towards you on an inhale and pointing them away as you exhale. Repeat 3-5 times, spreading the toes wide as you flex. Then, to loosen the ankles further, draw slow circles with your feet. After several circles in one direction, switch and repeat in the opposite direction.