In our last post, “Five Exercises for Fit Feet,” we outlined some great exercises that you can perform to enhance your foot health in general. They were focused on helping you increase foot balance, strength and stability, while reducing the risk of injury or pain. In this article, we dive a little deeper into specific exercises that can help you treat foot conditions like bunions, plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis. It may sound too good to be true, but studies show that patients experience an improvement in symptoms by adding these movements to their daily routine.
A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe, causing the formation of a noticeable bump. It occurs when the bones of the big toe become misaligned, and supporting tissue is stretched and becomes swollen and painful. Fortunately, you can reduce the pain by performing several foot exercises:
Toe Spreading Out (TSO)
Aim: This exercise involves spreading your toes, which helps to improve muscle activation and stability. Recent studies show that TSO demonstrated positive results in bunion correction.
Purpose: To improve the angle of the big toe joint and correct muscle imbalance.
- While sitting with your foot flat on the floor, lift all toes.
- Keeping toes lifted, extend the little toe outward
Extend the big toe in the opposite direction, maximizing the distance between big to and little toe. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds at a time, which you can progressively increase.
In the study referenced above, patients performed the exercise for 20 minutes a day, 4 days a week.
Purpose: To improve foot and toe flexibility.
- Spread a small towel on the floor
- Place your toes on the edge of the towel and curl your toes toward you, pulling the towel under your foot.
- Repeat 5 times.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, affecting more than 50 percent of Americans. It occurs as a result of a tear in the plantar fascia, leading to inflammation and pain. It is prevalent in middle-aged individuals and those who spend a lot of time on their feet.
Below are the three exercises you can use to reduce the pain:
Purpose: Pain relief
- Sit on a chair, place a frozen water bottle flat on the floor. Roll your foot back and forth over the bottle. Do it for two minutes. If you are experiencing pain in both feet, switch to the over foot and repeat.
- Cross your right leg over your left leg. Use your hand to gently pull your big toe towards you and hold it for 30 seconds. Do this exercise three times and repeat the same for your left toe.
- While sitting on the floor, fold a towel and place it under the arches of both feet. Hold the towel with both hands, and slowly pull, extending the top of the feet back toward you. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Achilles tendinitis is a foot condition that causes pain along the back of the leg. It causes pain and inflammation at the back of the leg.
Purpose: Stretch the calf and reduce pain
- Stand up straight with the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair or a phone book. Hold onto something solid for balance if necessary
- Relax your calf muscles and allow the heels to drop toward the floor slowly. This is stretching the muscles and tendons in the calf area.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat it 2 to 4 times. If you find it useful, you can get a deeper stretch by raising one leg slightly, shifting your body weight to a single leg.
While these exercises are most effective in mild-to-moderate cases, they are still highly effective in helping you reduce pain and even prevent the worsening of symptoms. You may find that the issue becomes much more manageable and your activity level can resume through these methods alone. However, if you are experiencing severe pain or mobility issues that impact your life, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Maislos at Houston Foot and Ankle Care. He will perform a thorough evaluation and provide you with treatment options based on your personal needs. Call (713) 541-3199 to request an appointment.