Stretch heel pain away

10 June 2015

A stretching exercise could banish heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis, a common condition that can be difficult to treat.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot becomes inflamed, usually as a result of overuse. It often affects athletes and older individuals; women tend to be more susceptible than men and being seriously overweight increases the risk.

The technique involves the patient sitting with one leg crossed over the other and stretching the arch of the foot by pulling back the toes for a count of 10.

The exercise must be repeated 10 times, and performed at least three times a day, including first thing in the morning and after prolonged periods of sitting.

According to the study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the US researchers found that three to six months after starting the exercise, sufferers had a 75 per cent chance of being pain-free. The majority needed no further treatment.

What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?

  • Pain under the heel, sometimes radiating to the front of the foot
  • Pain that tends to be worst first thing in the morning. After a few minutes it eases as the foot gets warmed up, but can get worse again during the day especially if walking a lot

What are the treatments?

  • A combination of rest and regular gentle exercises. However fascia tissue heals slowly and recovery may take several months
  • Avoidance of excessive walking or standing, and regular gentle stretching
  • Well-cushioned footwear with good heel support
  • Painkillers like paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen are recommended to ease the discomfort
  • Steroid injections are used to treat more persistent cases
  • As a last resort surgery may be considered but it can cause complications in some patients

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