Foot pain causes millions of Americans to seek medical treatment each year. When that pain is felt in the heel and achilles tendon, it can be immobilizing. Furthermore, as range of motion in the immediate area is compromised, secondary issues in the knees, hips, and back develop as a result. Thankfully, having an understanding of the anatomy of the foot coupled with easy, targeted exercises can send your pain packing.
Pain felt in the heel and foot can usually be traced to two structures: the achilles tendon (the cord-like tendon at the back of the leg, near the ankle), or the plantar fascia. The two parts are joined, and a pull on one becomes a tug on the other. The calf muscles are attached to the foot via the Achilles tendon which then links into the plantar fascia. This web-like connective tissue stretches across the bottom of the heel and sole of the foot. Strain on either can result in heel pain. Poor alignment, excess weight, high heels, and muscle strain cause inflammation and shortening of the Achilles and plantar fascia. Sufferers often find themselves reluctant to put weight on their feet due to the sharp pains that follow.
A combination of exercises and improved foot care can heal your feet. To counter the muscle tightening at the root of foot pain, offset your time in high heels with flat shoes or even better, walking with bare feet. The foot, calf muscles and structures in between were designed to stretch and flex. Walking with a heel to toe motion in which you roll through the entire sole of the foot as you walk will loosen them and restore circulation. This is the perfect excuse to take a therapeutic barefoot walk along the beach in Boca Raton! If you spend much of your day in a seated position, stash a tennis ball or golf ball in your desk drawer. While you work, roll the ball between the sole of your foot and floor, pressing it into tight spots to massage away trigger points.
Finally, remember that improving the flexibility of your calves constitutes great foot care. Standing with flat feet, gently bend forward in the waist until you feel a stretch throughout your calves and hamstrings. This will open the entire chain of muscles that link to the Achilles tendons and soles of your feet.