If those first morning steps to the coffee pot have you feeling as though knives are stabbing into your heel, your plantar fascia may be to blame. The plantar fascia is a thick tissue that connects your heel to your toes. Prolonged standing, exercises such as running that place stress on the heel, obesity and shoes with poor arch support place excess tension on this tissue and result in tiny tears. The plantar fascia stretch keeps this tissue flexible and reduces the risk of plantar fasciitis.
Sit on your bed, a bench or a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Raise your left foot and place it on your right knee.
Grab the toes on your left foot with your left hand and pull your toes back toward your shin. You should feel a stretch in the plantar fascia, along the arch of your foot. Use your right hand to feel along the bottom of your foot. You should feel the tension here. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and release.
Repeat the stretch for eight to 12 repetitions and then switch feet. The University of Rochester Medical Center recommends preforming the stretch three times a day, with the most important times being first thing in the morning and after sitting for a long period of time.
- For another version of this exercise, sit on the floor and place the heel of your left foot on the floor in front of you with your knee bent. Grab just under your big toe and pull your toes back toward your shin. Repeat with the right foot.
- Consult a health-care professional before starting any new exercise program.
- If you experience regular foot pain, consult a health-care professional to rule out any underlying injury.
- Stretching exercises should create tension, but not pain. Stop the stretch immediately if you experience pain.
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