Heel spur is a condition that causes severe pain in the heel and limits many daily life activities. Especially when you wake up in the morning or after being inactive for a long time, taking the first step can be very painful. Heel spur can result from many causes. Flatfoot disorder, weakening of muscle strength, standing for long periods, physical strain, or wearing inappropriate shoes are some of these reasons.
In the treatment of heel spur, surgical intervention is often not required. Conservative treatment methods can be quite effective in the treatment of heel spur. Among these methods, exercises are also one of the first treatments to be sought.
Table of Contents:
- What are Heel Spur (Plantar Fasciitis) Exercises?
- Benefits of Heel Spur Exercises
- Heel Spur Exercises
How are Heel Spur (Plantar Fasciitis) Exercises?
Exercises can be divided into stretching and strengthening exercises. Heel spur stretching exercises are beneficial for increasing flexibility in the muscles, softening stiffness, and relieving fatigue. Strengthening exercises are effective in increasing muscle endurance and ensuring more balanced movements.
There are very few studies on whether stretching or strengthening exercises are more effective. However, both are usually included in the exercise program. Nevertheless, it would be best to consult your doctor on this matter.
Heel spur exercises can easily be done at home. Most exercises can be performed without equipment or with items you can find at home. When applied correctly and without skipping your exercise program, your pain will significantly decrease.
Benefits of Heel Spur Exercises
Patients with heel spur may prefer to remain inactive to prevent or reduce severe pain in their heels. In this case, the muscles in the foot can weaken and stiffen because they are not working. The goal is to strengthen and stretch the muscles with exercises.
Although rest is initially recommended in the treatment of heel spur (plantar fasciitis), it is important to exercise the muscles in the foot.
The benefits of heel spur exercises are as follows:
- Reduces pain.
- Strengthens muscles and increases endurance.
- Increases the flexibility of the Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, and muscles.
- Allows you to return to daily life activities earlier.
- Prevents recurrence of pain.
- Accelerates healing.
- Effective in avoiding surgical intervention.
If your Physical Therapy or Orthopedics doctor diagnoses you with heel spur, they will recommend some exercises. You can apply the exercise examples below at home by consulting your doctor.
Heel spur exercises are shown with pictures and the steps are detailed.
Heel Spur Exercises
1. Calf Stretching Exercise
Tension in the foot muscles and calf can intensify heel spur pain. Therefore, making the calf muscles more flexible can reduce pain.
- Place your hands on the wall.
- Keep the knee of the side with the heel spur straight, and bend the other knee.
- Both feet should fully touch the ground.
- Hold the stretch for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 2-3 times.
2. Ball Rolling Exercise Under the Foot
Rolling a ball under the foot helps to relax the foot muscles. You can also use a frozen bottle of water instead of a ball. This kind of cold application can also reduce inflammation. Sit on a chair.
- Place a suitable-sized ball under your foot.
- Roll the ball back and forth under your foot.
- You can do this for 2 minutes.
3. Foot Stretching Exercise While Sitting
With this heel spur exercise, you can relieve muscle tension.
- Sit on a chair and extend the leg with the heel spur.
- To stretch the arch of the foot, pull the tips of your toes upwards (towards the shin).
- Place your hands on the non-tense leg.
- Feel the tension in the sole of the other foot.
- Hold for 10 seconds in this position.
- Repeat this exercise 2-3 times.
4. Object Grab and Release Exercise with Toes
Holding an object with your toes stretches your foot and calf muscles. This exercise can be done before taking the first step of the day or after resting during the day. It is quite soothing for the pain felt when taking the first step.
- Sit on a chair.
- Your feet should touch the ground and your knees should be bent.
- Place objects near your foot that you can grasp with your toes (For example, you can use marbles).
- Grasp an object with your toes and then release it.
- Repeat this exercise 10 times.
5. Heel Spur Massage
By massaging the sole of the foot, you can relax the muscles in the area and reduce pain. Additionally, massage can increase blood circulation and support the healing of the area.
- Cross one leg over the other.
- The foot with the heel spur should be on top.
- Extend your toes backward to stretch the sole of your foot.
- Press firmly on the sole of your foot with your hands and then release.
- Do this movement for ten seconds.
- Do not apply any pressure to the heel while doing this exercise.
- You can do it 2-3 times a day.
- Each time should be repeated 10 times.
- Doing this after waking up or sitting for a long time will reduce the tension in your foot.
6. Foot Stretching Exercise with Elastic Band or Towel
The stretching exercise done with an elastic band or towel is quite suitable for hard-to-reach muscles. It also allows the tendon to be stretched. This heel spur exercise can have a broad impact by affecting muscles in the foot sole, foot region, and calf.
- Sit on a comfortable surface.
- Extend your legs straight out.
- Pass a towel or band under your foot.
- Pull the towel or band towards yourself with both hands.
- Wait for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
7. Inward Foot Rotation Exercise While Sitting (With Elastic Band)
This exercise, which can be done with an elastic band, is effective in strengthening the muscles around the ankle. Strengthening the muscles can reduce the load on the plantar fascia, the membrane of the foot sole. Thus, the pressure on the painful area decreases.
- Sit on a flat surface.
- Extend your legs.
- Place the leg with the heel spur over your other leg.
- Tie the elastic band to the foot on top.
- Wrap the band around the bottom foot and hold its end.
- Slowly turn the foot on top inward and then return it to its original position.
- Repeat 10 times.
8. Heel Raise Exercise
The heel raise exercise is effective for strengthening the calf. It is a recommended exercise for being more active in daily life and returning to moderate-level sports. Because with the strengthening of the calf; in activities like walking and running, the shocks the foot receives when it contacts the ground are reduced.
- You need to do this exercise slowly and in a controlled manner. Make sure you maintain your balance and always hold onto a fixed object for support.
- Make sure you maintain your balance and always hold onto a fixed object for support.
- Stand on the edge of a step board.
- Let the heel part of your foot remain in the air.
- During this movement, you may feel a stretch in your calf muscles.
- Slowly rise onto your toes.
- After rising, return your foot to its original position.
- Repeat 10 times and then rest.
9. Towel Squeeze Exercise with Toes
Strengthening the muscles weakened due to heel spurs is very important. In this exercise, which actively uses the toes, the muscles inside the foot are worked. It also provides support to the arches in the foot.
- In this exercise, the sole of your foot should touch the ground.
- Only your toes should work.
- Sit on a chair and sit upright.
- Place your foot on the towel on the floor.
- Keep your toes spread.
- Grasp the towel by squeezing with your toes and release.
- Repeat 10 times.
10. Toe Stretching Exercise While Sitting
Due to heel spurs, tension can develop in the sole of the foot. The toe stretching exercise, done to relieve this tension, can alleviate pain. It can be especially effective for severe pains experienced in the mornings or after sitting for a long time.
- Try to do this stretching exercise slowly and in a controlled manner.
- Sit on a chair.
- Place the leg with the heel spur over the other leg.
- Hold your ankle with one hand and your toes with the other.
- Gently pull your toes backward.
- Wait until you feel a stretch in the sole of your foot.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 3 times for both feet.
- Doing it once a day is sufficient.
11. Exercise with Massage Foam or Rolling Foam
This exercise applied to the calf muscles helps to relieve tension and tightness in the muscles. Thus, the load on the Achilles tendon and the sole of the foot can also decrease. This can be effective in alleviating pains.
- Sit on the floor.
- Extend your legs.
- Place the rolling foam (massage foam) under the leg where you feel pain.
- Bend your other knee.
- Support yourself by placing your hands behind you.
- Slightly lift your hips.
- Move the rolling foam along your calf.
- Repeat 10 times.
The most important point for exercises: techniques suitable for the degree of your problem and your overall condition and a correct exercise program should be applied. Your exercise program should be determined by your physical therapy and rehabilitation specialist doctor and physiotherapist. If you have any problems during or after the exercise, you should share it with them. It is important to consult an expert about a physical therapy and exercise plan suitable for your individual situation.
Exercising for heel spurs is an effective treatment method. However, exercises need to be applied regularly and correctly. Otherwise, the desired result may not be achieved. If you have heel spur complaints and have difficulty performing many activities in your life, you can contact us. You can ask what you are curious about and make an appointment with our Orthopedics and Traumatology doctors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which exercise is good for heel spurs?
There are many exercises that can be applied for heel spurs. You should consult your physiotherapist and doctor for the exercise or exercises that will be good for you. An appropriate treatment program will be created based on the severity of the heel spur and the complaints it causes in you. For example, if your foot and calf muscles have weakened due to heel spurs, a program focused on strengthening exercises may be recommended.
What is the home treatment for heel spurs?
Conservative treatment methods are available for heel spurs. Some of these treatments can also be applied at home. Exercises, night splints, and hot-cold baths can be cited as examples of these treatments. Especially, exercises are a frequently referred and effective method.
How is the heel spur massage done?
You can try the application named heel massage for heel spurs. In heel massage, the sole of the foot is actually massaged. No pressure is applied to the heel area. You can press hard on the sole of your foot with your hands and pull it back. You can do 10 repetitions in 2-3 sets.
How are heel spur exercises done?
You can do heel spur exercises on your own or with the guidance of a physiotherapist. The most important criterion when applying exercises is to do the movement correctly. If the movement is not done correctly, the wrong muscles will work. Therefore, the desired recovery will not occur. It would be best to consult your doctor to get the necessary guidance.
Can heel spur be cured with physical therapy?
Conservative treatments applied for heel spurs are usually sufficient for the disease’s recovery. Physical therapy is also among the conservative treatments. However, in addition to physical therapy, lifestyle changes may also be needed. For example, if you have professions where you need to stand for very long periods or if you choose the wrong shoes, the effect of physical therapy may decrease.