Health Team

Ease Heel Pain With Simple Stretching Technique

Posted April 20, 2007 3:54 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2007 6:08 p.m. EDT

Heel pain can sweep exercisers right off their feet, but there is a simple solution that may stop or even prevent pain.

The clinical name for the most common heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Dr. Steven Weinfeld of Mt. Sinai Medical Center said it's caused by inflammation in a ligament that runs from the heel to the toe.

"Right where the ligament originates, which is right at the base of the heel, is a very high stress area and that's where the inflammation occurs," he said.

The pain can slow down exercisers or just busy moms like Karen Flatow.

"You're feeling like a little old man kind of shuffling because you can't get your feet to move," she said.

To correct the problem, patients may need a custom-made orthotic, a sort of spint in the shoe. In the worst cases, they may need surgery. However, doctors are finding a simple stretching technique can stop the pain and keep it from coming back.

Flatow said before she gets out of bed, she puts her foot over her leg and pulls her toes back. Weinfeld suggests holding that pose for 10 seconds and then relax. Then, repeat again for 10. He said you should do that 10 times, usually three times a day with the regimen lasting four to six weeks.

Health experts said constantly stretching the ligament relieves stress in the heel as well as prevent inflammation and pain. Flatow, along with a recent study, said the stretching technique is highly effective.

"It feel much better. It's amazing. I didn't really believe it but it really does work," she said.

If you are experiencing heel pain, you should first talk to your doctor before trying the stretching technique or any other type of treatment.