Incorporating heel spur exercises and stretches into your daily routine is a great way to reduce painful symptoms and occurrence of heel pain by helping to manage inflammation in the bottom of your foot. Persistent heel pain can make that first step out of bed excruciating and linger throughout the day. To avoid this, keep scrolling to learn the exercises you should be doing daily.
When it comes to exercises for heel spur pain, find balance between strength and flexibility to restore balance of the foot and ankle while optimizing the body’s ability to heal itself and better manage symptoms.
Remember to check with a physical therapist for proper diagnosis and guidance before beginning these exercises on your own.
When getting started, starting with stretching exercises should always be the first step for heel pain relief. Do these first thing in the morning!
Try these before taking your first steps out of bed in the morning.
This is another great warm up exercise for your morning routine. It focuses more specifically on the toes and foot.
Alternatively, you can wrap a towel or stretch strap under the arch of your foot. Hold the foot in front of you while curling and extending the toes as above to deepen the stretch.
The large ligament on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia (which connects to your achilles tendon), is often stiff and painful with a heel spur in the calcaneus. Plantar fasciitis may even be the cause of your heel spur.
Alternatively, you can wrap the strap around the big toe and pull it up toward the shin. This will increase the intensity of the stretch in the bottom of the foot as long as your toe can tolerate it.
There are many calf stretch variations for heel pain relief. A tight calf muscle can affect the leg mechanics, aggravate bone spurs and even cause heel pain from plantar fasciitis. A calf stretcher makes loosening these muscles easy; you can get one here.
If you don’t have a calf stretcher you can try these as well:
Yoga is a great option for boosting foot flexibility and your overall health at the same time (via stress management). This stretch loosens up the entire lower body including the hamstrings, calf, and plantar fascia.
Consider adding more yoga poses to your routine for further health benefits.
This isn’t necessarily a stretch, but a foot massage can help to loosen plantar fasciitis ligaments that run along the bottom of the foot and connect to your heel. You can use your thumbs, a massage ball, or a massage roller on the floor under your foot. Heating or icing the ball or roller can also offer great foot pain relief.
Once you’ve warmed up your achilles tendon and the ligaments in your arch, progress your way through these heel spur exercises to help strengthen your foot; starting with the easiest movements first.
This exercise strengthens the intrinsic muscles in the toes. This encourages a strong and supportive arch with standing and weight bearing activities.
For other toe strengthening options, you can “write” with your toes or press the toes down into the floor or a soft object.
Grab a medium resistance band for gentle strengthening. This move can be aggravating if overdone, so always focus on keeping good alignment in the foot and ankle to reduce irritation.
Being able to coordinate movement in your arch is a great way to boost lower body mechanics. This simple exercise can be harder than it looks if you’re struggling with arch issues as is common with a heel spur.
As you learn to control the height of your arch, this will help you keep better form with standing activities like the next exercise below.
When starting any standing exercise, it is important to focus on keeping the foot in an optimal position. This exercise is an excellent way to get started. If it’s still too difficult, simply attempt to stand while keeping good foot and ankle position.
Once you have mastered good balance with optimal foot posture, you can build to more dynamic moves while continually focusing on keeping the feet in a good position. This might include squats, lunges, and more.
Technically, a heel spur won’t go away with conservative treatment (although there are some cases of a spur disappearing or reducing in size). However, the true problem with a heel spur is when it causes tissue aggravation and symptoms. If you have a heel spur you should avoid the most common causes of aggravation including:
Each person will respond differently to these exercises. Start slowly and stay closely in tune with your symptoms. Typically, you will benefit most from daily exercise for 10 to 30 minutes until your symptoms are improving (usually within a few weeks). Then, you can transition to exercising the foot 3 to 4 times per week for maintenance and long term success. These exercises may be uncomfortable but should not aggravate heel pain symptoms.
There are so many awesome benefits to a regular exercise program. However, if your symptoms are not going away after a few weeks, affecting your quality of life, or getting worse, you should get in touch with your doctor or physical therapist as soon as possible for further medical advice. They may be able recommend anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, a cortisone shot, and more.