Sit with legs outstretched in front and toes pointing to the ceiling, point your toes away and back 15 times. Now lean forward and grip your toes or ankles. Slowly shift to a butterfly stretch and follow it with the Thunderbolt pose followed by a Mountain pose. This sequence improves blood circulation and strengthens muscles around the heel.
Heel pain is a common foot condition which is usually felt as a searing pain when using the affected heel. Heel pain usually builds up gradually and gets worse over time. Yoga has been found to be effective in providing relief to the feet and alleviating heel pain. In addition to your yoga routine, Ayurveda can also be a great supplement to the treatment methods.
What Are The Common Causes of Heel Pain?
Heel pain has a number of causes that are typically associated with overuse of the heel bone. Heel pain could be due to excessive body weight or wearing ill-fitting footwear. These strains can irritate the heel’s bones, muscles, or tendons. Heel pain can also be due to a condition called ”Plantar Fasciitis”, heel spurs, excessive pronation and Achilles Tendinitis.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the band of tissue (the plantar fascia) that extends from the heel to the toes. In this condition, the fascia first becomes irritated and then inflamed, resulting in heel pain .
According to studies, Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain with a lifetime prevalence of 10%, accounting for eleven to 15% of all foot symptoms, and affecting two million people in the United States alone .
Heel Spurs are a bony growth on the underside of the heel bone. When an X-ray is performed, this half-an-inch protrusion
is revealed. The condition results from strain on the muscles and ligaments of the foot. It can also occur when the long band of tissue connecting the heel and ball of the foot is stretched.
When the membrane covering the heel bone is torn, it can also result in a heel spur. Conditions that aggrevate heel spurs are due to intense running or jogging, obesity or biomechanical imbalance .
Studies say that Radiation therapy is an effective treatment option for the management of inflammatory heel spurs .
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is primarily used when a person indulges in activities such as walking, running and jumping. While this tendon is made to withstand pressure, it is also prone to a condition called “tendinitis”, occurring from degeneration .
Flattening of the arch of the foot is termed pronation. If there is excessive pronation of the foot while walking and standing, the plantar fascia is strained. Over time, this will cause a weakening of the ligament where it attaches into the heel bone, causing pain .
Yoga For Heel Pain
Yoga foot exercises help the calf muscles and Achilles tendon remain relaxed and also help strengthen weaker muscles of the feet. They improve blood circulation leading to better oxygenation and elimination of accumulated blockages and toxins.
Here is a sequence of Yogasanas that will hep you keep your feet in excellent working order in general and give you relief from heel pain in particular. Remember to breathe normally right through and spend 30-60 seconds in each pose.
1. Start with Dandasana
Sit erect with your legs extended forward. Rest your palms on either sides of your body. Point your toes towards your body.
2. Stretch your ankles
While in Dandasana, stretch the ankles forwards and backwards and rotate them clockwise and anti-clockwise. Repeat 10-15 times. This stretch strengthens the ankle joint ligaments and tendons of the top of the foot. For individuals prone to ankle sprains or tendinitis, this is a good warm-up for the ankle joint.
3. Move into Paschimottasana
Stretch forward into the Paschimottanasana pose. Aim to touch your calves, ankles and toes.
4. Pull back into Baddha Konasana
The Butterfly stretch energizes the hip, inner thigh muscles and the lateral side of the foot and ankle.
5. Settle down into Vajrasana
Kneel down with your knees touching each other. Sit in the cavity formed by your feet. Do not sit on the heels. Place your hands on your thighs with palms facing upwards. Keep your spine erect and head straight.
6. Reach out with Tadasana
Stand up and stretch the entire body, from the tips of your toes to the tips of your fingers.
- Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
- Mechanical treatment of plantar fasciitis: a prospective study. J Am Pod Med Assoc- Martin JE et al. 2001
- Heel Pain. The American Podiatric Medical Association.
- Heyd, Reinhard, et al. “Radiation therapy for painful heel spurs.” Strahlentherapie und Onkologie 183.1 (2007): 3-9.
- Achilles Tendinitis. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
- Pronation and Orthotics. University of California.