We're a little obsessed with stretching. There are three main stretches for plantar fasciitis that we swear by, but did you know that yoga can also help ease the discomfort of heel pain, lead you down the road to recovery, and prevent issues in the future?
Yoga: A Brief History
Yoga began over 5,000 years ago in Northern India. A few centuries after the birth of classical yoga, masters of the practice developed a system of poses and ideals designed for bodily rejuvenation and longevity. Yoga went threw many periods of change, which ultimately led to the type of practice we often think of in the Western world, called Hatha Yoga. In 1947, a woman named Indra Devi opened a studio in Los Angeles, California, and the commercialization of the ancient practice has drawn in millions of followers in recent years.
How Can Yoga Benefit Your Feet?
It may surprise you to learn that yoga is an excellent cross-training practice for endurance athletes like runners and swimmers. Yoga can help to bring balance to your body, build strength, and in some cases, can actually help you avoid common sports injuries. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis can be treated with stretching, and yoga is a great way to get that in. Overuse injuries are easily avoided if the feet, ankles, associated ligaments, tendons, and muscles are kept strong.
For athletes and non-athletes alike, yoga benefits your feet and your overall health. Practicing yoga regularly increases mental clarity, reduces chronic stress or anxiety, improves heart health and back pain, and even eases symptoms of arthritis. Runners' yoga can help avoid those common overuse injuries and ensures that you are prepared to crush your next race. Pairing these poses with advanced treatments for heel pain, such as laser pain therapy with our state-of-the-art Hyperblue Plus laser or shockwave therapy (EPAT), can accelerate the healing of existing injuries and prevent new ones!
4 Yoga Poses To Ease Aching Feet
1. Tadasana. Also known as mountain pose. This is a yoga pose beneficial for runners especially. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and roll your shoulders up, back, and down. This pose may seem too easy to be effective, but if you truly focus on the movements, you will feel a great stretch in the shoulders, back, hips, and especially your feet. As you stand, breathe, and move, feel your feet grounding into the floor or yoga mat. Many yoga instructors recommend closing your eyes and feeling the pressure of the mat on the four corners of each foot.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana. This pose is often referred to as "reclining bound angle," and it helps to stretch the plantar fascia as you lie on your back with your knees bent and slack and the soles of your feet together. It is also beneficial in increasing hip mobility. Don't worry about your thighs being perfectly flat or your knees hovering instead of resting on the ground. Feel the stretch, and don't worry about matching your movements to exactly mirror what the pose is "supposed" to look like. Hold this posture for several minutes of deep breathing to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing your mind and body.
3. Virabhadrasana. Commonly known as the Warrior Pose, it is a group of poses related to lunges. We recommend Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana in Sanskrit) to get the most benefit out of the pose. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart so that your legs almost form a vee. Turn your feet and upper body so that both toes and your face are pointed in the same direction. Clasp your hands together behind your back and bend forward as if trying to line your torso up, almost parallel with your front leg. Keep your back foot planted firmly, and enjoy the deep stretch in your heel and calf. Slowly lift back to standing, following the direction of your breath, and repeat on the opposite side.
4. Toe Sit. This is a fundamental, beginner-friendly pose. Start by kneeling and bringing your bottom down to rest on your heels. Lay your hands flat on your thighs and focus on keeping your back straight and shoulders back. When ready, bring the bottoms of all ten toes onto the mat to bend at their natural angle. You might need to modify by placing a folded blanket under your knees for extra support or using your fingers to tuck your pinky toes. Center your weight on the balls of your feet. Feel the stretch in your toes and the arches of your feet, and hold the pose for several breaths before slowly letting your shoulders melt. We like to transition from this pose into the well-known and very helpful balasana (Child's Pose).
Visit Mid-Michigan's Leading Sports Podiatrist
If you're a runner, endurance athlete, busy parent, or just someone with sore feet, we can provide you with all the tools, information, and free resources you need to rid yourself of heel pain once and for all! (We even wrote a book about it, and it's free!). It's important to remember that heel pain is not normal. If your pain stops you from doing the things you love, it's time to come see us. Call or text us at 989-695-6788 or fill out our online contact form to get yourself on track to a pain-free life today!