It is official, summer is here! With the transition of the seasons, comes the transition of our footwear. It feels great to kick off those winter shoes, and dust off your summer sandals. For some, maybe it’s no shoes at all with the freedom of being barefoot. Unfortunately, our feet may pay the price in the summer with a possibility of developing the dreaded diagnosis of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot from the toes to the heel, often causing heel pain.
One summer risk factor may be the sudden change from a supportive sneaker to a less supportive flip flop or sandal. In addition, with the warmer weather we are often more active in the summer time. With this increase in activity, we may also put a strain on our feet. Often the initial symptoms can be a pain to the heel or foot with the initial steps you take from a rested position. Some examples of when the pain occurs would be pain after the first steps getting out of bed, or standing from seated position.
Here are a few summer stretches for your feet:
• Standing calf stretch at wall - Where you will feel it: behind the knee. Stand with hands at wall, lunge one foot back and keep a straight knee with your heel down, pull hips forward toward the wall (the leg in back will get the stretch). Hold 20 seconds, repeat 2-3 times
• Seated plantar fascia stretch - Where you will feel it: arch of foot. While sitting hold heel with one hand and pull toes up with your fingers. Hold 20 seconds, repeat 2-3 times
• Standing calf/plantar fascia stretch at stairs - Where you will feel it: behind knee, achilles, arch of foot. Hold onto wall or railing, stand on step with just the front of your foot and heels are hanging off stair, slowly and gently lower heels. Hold 20 seconds, repeat 2-3 times
• Massage Arch of foot - Where you will feel it: arch of foot. Sit in chair, place tennis ball on floor and roll arch over tennis ball. 2-3 minutes, repeat as needed
As always with exercise, consult your doctor first. Stretching is a great start for both the prevention and treatment of plantar fasciitis. There are many other conservative options for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. A physical therapist can examine and evaluate your pain and develop a program that best suits your needs for your pain and lifestyle.