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Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis

If you are a runner, sooner or later you will encounter heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. While there is no cure, simple exercises can take care of it.

Plantar fascia is the tissue band running along the bottom of the foot. Excessive walking, running, or irritation can inflame the tissues, causing severe heel pain. See my previous article on Treating Heel Pain with simple exercises. Here is another, very effective heel-leg stretch. Similar to others, this stretch takes less than 2 minutes.


Heel Stretch
I start my day with this and other stretches, as I sip my morning chai. You need either an exercise band (used in demo), a yoga or karate belt, or what I use at home – an old bicycle inner tube.

Goal To stretch the plantar fascia running along the bottom of your feet. The plantar fascia is not an isolated structure, but wraps around the heel, connects with the achilles tendon, calf muscles, up behind the knee, the hamstrings and your glutes. During this exercise, all these get stretched.
plantar fasciitis, heel pain, exercises stretches, Julie Schlenkerman Arun Shanbhag


plantar fasciitis, heel pain, exercises stretches Arun ShanbhagHow To:
1. Sit upright with your back against a wall, legs stretched out in front, feet are hip distance apart.
2. Loop the belt around the forefoot, just below the ball of the foot and firmly pull the foot back towards you. Keep your knee pressed to the floor.
3. Feel the stretch from the heel, the calf muscles and your hamstrings. As you straighten your back, you should feel the stretch in your glutes and lower back.
4. Breathe. Hold the stretch for a count of 15.
5. Release and stretch other foot/leg.
6. Repeat cycle once more. Takes less than 2 minutes total.

You don’t need Night Splints
When we lie down, the feet relax and tend to lean away from the body, going into plantar “flexion.” In this position all night, the plantar fascia is relaxed and contracts. The next morning as we re-stretch the foot, the fascia rebels, resulting in the intense heel pain. Thus the need for early morning stretches.

Instead of night splints, I recommend simply tucking your bed sheet/blanket under the heel and keeping it taut; feet remain straight and do not lean away. In pic below, see how the right foot is already leaning away? Keeping sheet taut is sufficient to keep heel stretched all night and not cause intense morning pain.
plantar fasciitis, heel pain, exercises stretches, night splints Arun Shanbhag


The Complete Guide to Taking Care of Plantar Fasciitis

  1. Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis
  2. Heel & Achilles Tendon Stretch
  3. Stretching Calf Muscles
  4. Foot and Toe Extension

Demonstrated by Certified Personal Trainer, Julie Schlenkerman (Boston, MA). Julie is also a marathoner (Boston Marathon PR: 3:16:14) and uses this stretch to subdue heel pain as she trains for the 2010 Boston Marathon.

Comments

  1. Hello Dr Shanbhag, can i do these stretches and continue my gym work out which includes knee strengthening for my knee pain. In addition i do cycling at the gym. Treadmill i have stopped after my heel pain aggravated. Please advise.
    I prefer early morning walks – should i discontinue that?

    • I would definitely urge moderation and let your body tell you how much to push forward.
      The stretches are the best things that you can do, starting from early in the morning. See how your legs feel by the end of your workouts. Remember to use icepacks to cool down any soreness after your workouts.
      Early morning walks are great, but please stretch out your heels, calfs etc before you head out. use comfortable shoes.
      If its unbearable, take a few days off and take it easy.

      If you have tried everything and this is continuing, please check with your doctor or physical therapist to see if there is some underlying pathology.

      In my experience, stretching and strengthening, combined with easy to moderate workouts did the best for me.
      Wishing you the best,
      A

  2. Helen Nelson says:

    I really used to enjoy running on the beach barefooted. Unfortunately I stepped into a small whole dug by some kids that were building sand castles and this lead to a sharp pain in my foot. I was later told that this is as a result of the stretching of the plantar fascia. I was told to take a couple of weeks rest before I start running again. I must say that your website has some really informative tips on different exercises that can help.

    Cheers

  3. Hi Arun

    Was wondering if you know anything about pain relief of coccydynia. I have extreme pain at times and looking at ways at how i can improve my situation.

    Thanks
    Divya

    • Ouch! I don’t know a whole lot, but these are always managed conservatively. Seating cushions particularly donut shaped pillow help. And it may take a few weeks to months before it is resolved. Sorry, cannot be of more help.
      Wishing you the best
      Arun

  4. ARUNJI
    suffering from heel pain since 5 years,having multiple problem i.e.thyoride,diabetic,BP,anti epilepsy treatment,vericose veins and most dreaded overweight(102kg).want to discuss with you.can you give your contact number on my mobile(09811059515) by sms.So that I can call you and feel oblidged.
    rgd’s-SUNIL JINDAL

  5. dear Sir,
    I am having too much pain in both of the heel, also my uric acid level is very high i.e. 8.8, kindly suggest me how to overcome from the problem, also how to reduce uric acid level, i am pure vegetarian.

  6. Does anyone know about TENS and also ESWT treatments for plantar fasciitis?What are they and do they work?

    Ann

  7. Rashmi Ajay says:

    I just got diagonsed with the same problem and the doctor also advised me the above exercise…. just needed to know are there any shoes available in mumbai to take care of this issue the doctor talked about soft heel shoes or silicone based shoes… where can i get those.. Pleas any information would be of great help…

    Regards
    Rashmi Ajay

    • Hi Rashmi,
      I am currently based in Boston and not familiar with all shops in Mumbai. You really do not need to get any special shoes. just don’t wear the kolhapuris or other slippers which do not have any cushioning. Wear crocs, which are excellent. For office wear, get something very soft and cushiony at Bata or other good stores. Those are good enough. Bata also carries Dr Scholl’s shoes, which are excellent too. Check if Bata also carries Dr Scholl’s shoe inserts; these go inside regular shoes and provide additional cushioning – and help. I have one of these in each of my shoes.

      And most importantly is the exercises and stretches which you need to do every morning for ever. And remember to place your heels (or wherever it hurts) on ice for about 20 minutes.

      All these are things I do routinely. And you will do well.
      Best
      Arun

    • ck venkat says:

      you can use a HEEL CUSHION, available at chemists, (trade name Vissco, ~ Rs 525), Insert in your shoes. This gives rest and relief.
      ckvenkat@gmail.com

    • Hi Rashmi.

      I bought these soft heel chappals from J J & Sons near Harkissondas Hospital at Charni Road. The doctor advised me to use these chappals at home (he told me not to keep my feet on any hard surface any time of the day). Also, he advised me to get shoe inserts from a place diagonally opposite to J J & Sons which I use while wearing the shoes. (these can be used in different shoes) If required, I can get the name of the shop.

      Hemant

      • Mr.Hemanth & Ms.Rashmi, I have seen your posts on the heel problem & suggestions about the soft heel chappals etc.Actually there are these soft silicon black chappals available at some ortho slipper manufacturers which can also be comfortable.But trust me those exercises are the best & fastest solution to this problem. Do it regularly & Iam sure you will be out of it. Get well soon.Rgds

    • Hi

      Search for Bafna Surgicals and they will give you the Soft soul. The Dr.School is not good for india as it goes wet due to sweating as in indian condition. the silicon souls can be fitted inside your existing shoes and gives good result. But once your leg get used to it again it will pain. Going mad for last 3 years!!! with this rubbish pain

      • Agree, you don’t need any name brand stuff; use whatever is locally available.

        and yes, you have to do the stretching exercises and even ice the heel every evening ~ the pain will return.
        Loosing weight is an option too, and can help reduce the forces on the plantar fasciitis.

        Arun

  8. Dear Shanbhag ji…I am a regular at the gym & run a bit also.It was about 5/6 days back that I started feeling a pain on my left heel all of a sudden.I just ‘googled’ heel pain & hit upon your site link.I’ve been trying the stretch exercise for the past four days & must say there is quite a bit of relief.Thanks for the tip.Rgds

    • Deepak, glad this worked out for you.
      Remember to stretch every day for a few minutes, and you will be able to keep heel pain at bay.

      Thank you for sharing your comment.
      A

  9. Akshatha Kamath says:

    Hi Arun,

    I can’t thank you enough for this. I have been trying these simple things from past 2 weeks and pain is as if disappeared! Though this is not a big disease or something but only the sufferers know the real pain with every step. As if life comes to a stand still. I am happy that these small things did to me what multiple sessions with big doctors didn’t. Whole heartedly thank you. God bless you.

    With best regards,
    Akshatha Kamath

    • Wow Akshatha,
      Thank you for sharing the fabulous results that you got. Yes, heel pain can be very debilitating – I know.
      And glad the exercises helped. Please do not stop the stretches and exercises and the heel pain will come back. I usually do these in the morning while having my chai. I actually sit on the floor for breakfast, with my legs stretched out front and slowly do my stretches.

      Wishing you the best,
      Arun

  10. vijayalakshmi says:

    excellent remedies

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