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Yoga and Foot Pain
By Foot Health Centers, LLC
January 03, 2017
Category: Podiatry
Tags: Heel pain   Foot Pain   Yoga   Ankle Pain   Stretching  

Foot pain can range from your toes to your heel. When it comes to heel pain, also known as Plantar Fasciitis, affects 60% of individuals in yoga foot caretheir lifetime. When the thick tissue on the bottom of your foot called the Plantar Fascia becomes inflamed, it can become a daily annoyance. But you still need to stay fit. So what's the solution?

Yoga is a low-intensity, simple and impactful workout. Not only does it help you stay fit when your heel pain prevents you from following your regular execrise regimen, but stretching and low-impact exercise, both of which yoga covers, can help ease your pain. Tight calf muscles often make Plantar Fasciitis worse, and yoga can help stretch and loosen them.

Remember, any pose in yoga should only be performed to the extent that you feel comfortable - pain is not gain! Go at your own pace and react to your own flexibility, making adjustments as you go.

Mountain Pose:  This is a great pose to start with, especially if you aren't very familiar with yoga, as it forms the basis for many other poses and helps get you acclimated.

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Try to distribute your weight as evenly as possible across all parts of the foot, from the toes to the heel to the arch.
  2. Straighten your legs without locking your knees. Lift your arches.
  3. Engage the muscles in your thighs, turning them inward slightly. Try to lengthen through the base of your spine and tailbone without curving your back.
  4. Press your shoulder blades back and down to open the chest. Allow your arms to hang loose. 
  5. Try to balance as evenly in the pose as possible, breathing deeply. Feeling the distribution of weight in your feet, do your best to keep your weight even at all four corners of the foot, to keep your head lifted with your chin parallel to the floor, and remain as even and symmetrical in weight and posture as possible.

Downward Dog Pose: The pose many people think of when they think of yoga. While this pose doesn't require a yoga mat, performing it on a non-slippery surface is helpful, because you will need to put weight into the feet, and they may slide back if you try it on a hard floor.

  1. While sitting on the floor, move onto all fours, placing your hands down firmly on the floor slightly ahead of your shoulders, palm and fingers spread. Keep your knees directly in line with your pelvis.
  2. Breathe out and lift your knees from the floor, tucking your toes under and standing on the balls of your feet falling back almost as if you will sit on your heels. Keep your hands firmly on the floor.
  3. Then push up with your legs, allowing your heels to fall back toward the floor, pushing your pelvis into the air, hands still on the ground, forming an inverted v-shape with your body.
  4. Keep your head between your arms rather than letting it hang loose toward the floor. Try to distribute your weight between feet and hands, to avoid putting too much weight on either the ankles or the wrists. Drop your shoulder blades 
  5. Try to press your chest toward your legs as much as is comfortable. You can also try to press your heels into the floor, again, only as much as is comfortable. Try to rotate your arms so your elbows face toward your thumbs and rotate your thighs inward, as in mountain pose, to engage the quads.
  6. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, your feet hip-width apart and hands and feet should be parallel to each other. Your toes should point straight ahead. Take deep, long breaths and stretch into the pose as much as you feel comfortable doing. 
  7. Breathe into the pose. When you want to release the pose, perform a reverse of how you pressed yourself up - bend your knees in, then move back to hands and knees.

Chair Pose:  Chair pose offers a great stretch. As a pose that involved standing on both feet, one of the great things about it is that you can do it anywhere - even at the office!

  1. Start in Mountain Pose.
  2. Raise your arms over your head. Do not bend your elbows.
  3. Bend your knees and gently push your pelvis down as if you are sitting into an invisible chair behind you. Try to make your thighs as parallel as possible to the floor without losing your balance.
  4. Keep your lower back lengthened, not allowing it to curve into the pose, maintaining a straight back. Try to also shift as much weight as possible into your heels. Look straight ahead.
  5. Sink as deep into the pose as you feel comfortable, then try to hold it, again breathing deeply through the nose.
  6. To release, exhale and straighten the knees, coming back to Mountain.

Yoga offers a heel-pain friendly way to get in a workout, and may even help ease your pain. For other foot and ankle pain remedies and treatments, contact your podiatrist today!

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