It is possible to alleviate your chronic or acute heel pain with a single Pilates move.
If you are one of the millions of individuals who suffer with Plantar Fasciitis you know how debilitating it can be. Working out, everyday walking and even sleeping can be excruciating depending upon the severity of your condition. Thankfully there are particular foot exercises that can help reduce your symptoms and potentially set you on the path to recovery.
First, a little background. Plantar Fasciitis happens to nearly 10% of the population and occurs for a number of reasons. The most common is the loss of structure in the arch or dome of your foot. Think of it as an archery bow.The bones of the foot are the upper part of your foot and the strings are the fascia and tissues that span one end of the bow to the other.
If the bow gets weak and stretches out, the strings get pulled tauter and tighter even tearing. So it is with your feet. As the bony structure loses integrity through wear and tear and age, the fascia on the underside of the foot gets increasingly pulled and stretched beyond its capacity. Ouch. You limp. Repeatedly. This has a ripple effect causing other muscles to behave in unaccustomed ways and now you’ve got additional issues to contend with. The cycle is a tough one to break. What we need is a way to put all those bones that make the arch of your foot back to where they started and restore the original pain free formation.
Enter, the Pilates foot exercise known to instructors as the "Towel Exercise".
Grab a sock or a hand towel. Remove your own socks for this. No pedicure? Don’t worry – this will be quick.
Sit up tall at the edge of a chair or your bed or even your couch. It doesn’t matter where as long as you can get some weight onto the affected foot. Slip one end of the the towel or sock under the front of your foot extending it lengthwise directly out in front of your toes.
Begin by picking up you forefoot leaving your heel fixed to the floor. Spread your toes wide. Lower the front of the foot back onto the towel and curl your toes grabbing the towel and curling it towards you. If you did this right the towel will have moved in towards you just a little bit crumpling up along its way. Repeat the move exaggerating the action of the toes and working to steadily move the towel in closer and closer. It may bunch up under your arch. That's ok, just keep going. Once you get to the end of the towel stop. Spread it out and begin all over again.
STEP 2 (OPTIONAL)
If possible, rather than stretching out the towel to begin again, reverse the entire motion. This means you have to pick up the towel with your toes and push it out bit by bit. Once you master Step 1, try to incorporate this next step.
- Begin with 10 - 15 reps. Work your way up to 20 - 30 reps.
- Check out this short video as an example and see image below.
- It's normal for your foot to become to tired to continue, take a break. Resume after a minute rest.
- Consistency is key. Do your best to practice this move 3 times per day.
- If you can't keep a towel handy during your workday, simply use your own sock or spend a few bucks on an exercise band.
- Be mindful of the floor – avoid splinters. Choose a smooth wood or tile floor. Carpet can be challenging. You can also perform this in standing.
- Should your condition continue to worsen, seek the advice of a trusted medical professional.