Heel spur, calcaneal spur and plantar fasciitis are often caused by short muscles, especially in the lower legs and footsole. Therefor, it is important to make these flexible and longer again. These short muscles cause a constant strain on the plantar fascia, and this must be avoided. Stretching is very important then.
Several stretching exercises are advised to treat the heel spur. The most advised ones are listed here. It is not necessary to do all of these, as some exercises have a similar effect. Just experiment to find out which one fits you best. Make sure to find a good balance, stretching all muscles involved. Make sure not to exaggerate, stretching too hard can damage muscles and tendons.
Make sure to perform these stretches a few times a day. A general guideline would be 3 to 4 sessions each day. Then try to perform 3 to 4 exercises, repeating each exercise 2 -3 times with with 10-15 repetitions.
Exercise 1: Stretching the plantar fascia and the calves: stand on a stair step or a bench with your toes, with the foot sole horizontal. Lower the heel until you feel a stretch. Maintain a few seconds and go up again. Repeat this a few times.
Note that this exercise is also good for strength in the calve muscles. Especially when you go upwards again, proceed to standing on your toes.
Exercise 2: Stretching the plantar fascia and the calves: Sit down on the floor or your bed with your legs stretched out in front of you. With a towel around you toes, pull them towards you until you feel a stretch.
Exercise 3: Stretching the plantar fascia. This is a very effective exercise. This exercise is explained for a heel spur on the right foot: Sit down on a chair, cross the right leg over the left one. Then grab the toes of the right foot with your left hand and pull your toes towards you. You will actually see the fascia protrude in the foot and of course experience the stretch.
Exercise 4: Stretching the calv muscles: Lean forwards against a wall or a pole. Leave one leg stretched behind you and place the other one bent under you. Then lean further forward untill you feel a stretch in the behind leg.
Exercise 5: Again lean against a wall, placing both feet behind each other. Then slowly squat down, bending BOTH legs. You will feel a stretch deep in the calf of the behind leg, the so-called "soleus".
With all these exercises, be aware to be aware of how hard you stretch. If you stretch too excessively, you might even do further harm. Just listen to your body, nothing should hurt.
Next to the stretching exercises, it can also pay to strengthen your legs. Training the muscles in feet and legs (especially the calf) can support healing from heelspur and plantar fasciitis. Even runners or cyclists do not necessarily have strong legs. They may only be strong in a one sided direction. Performing these exercises may strengthen the muscles then.
A much-advised training for the feet is to lay out a towel in front of you on the floor and to try and roll it up using your toes. When this goes well you can even put small weights on the towel to make it a bit harder. Similarly, you can also try to pick up small objects with your toes. Both are useful exercises, without any risk of hurting the heel.
A nice exercise that stimulates the tissue of the fasciitis is to roll a golf ball under your foot. Do this for 1-2 minutes and repeat this a few times per day. You can easily do this at work, simply sitting at your desk. This specific exercise is often found helpful.
Next to these exercises, strengthening the upper legs may be usefull. Several exercises are possible, like standing on one leg, lowering yourself by bending the knee and standing up again.
When in doubt it is always a good idea to consult a physiotherapist before doing these exercises. some gyms even have one on-site.
See also this video (courtesy of sportsinjuryclinic.net):
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