Heel pain can be a miserable experience, particularly when it's severe and seems to be affecting you every day. Often, chronic pain in the heels is caused by a condition called plantar fasciitis, which is where the ligament that stretches from your heels to your toes – the plantar fascia – becomes inflamed.
Certain groups of people are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis, such as those in middle age, or anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet or doing certain types of activity regularly. Thankfully, it can be treated, and the pain can be relieved. It's worth seeking professional help if you're really suffering with your heels, but carrying out some stretching exercises can also be highly beneficial.
This stretches out the calf muscles, which extend right down to the backs of the heels. Because the pain often doesn't feel like it's affecting this area, people tend to neglect it, but it can be of real help in relieving the pain and inflammation.
Stand against a wall, far enough away that you can lay your palms flat against it with your arms outstretched. Put one foot forward, bent at the knee, and the other one back with a straight leg. Lean into the wall so you can feel the stretch along the calf muscles of your back leg. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
This is a nice easy one, as you get to sit down. You need something cylindrical and not too big; foam rollers are sold specifically for this sort of exercise, but you can make do with anything of the right size and shape. Some people use a bottle of frozen water, as it can help with pain relief.
Simply lie your cylinder on the floor and roll it back and forth underneath your foot for as long as it's comfortable or practical to do so.
Take a small towel or another strong piece of fabric. Hold it at both ends and loop it under the sole of your foot. Carefully pull the towel so that the toe end of your foot comes towards you, and hold for about 30 seconds. Switch feet and repeat.
If you don't have an aerobic step, any ordinary step will do, but be careful on staircases. Put the toes of one of your feet on a step, so half your foot is hanging off the back. Lower your heel slowly so you can feel the stretch, and hold it for 15 seconds. Swap over and stretch the other foot.
If you are like me, you have probably been in embarrassed in the past about having thick, yellow or otherwise unsightly toenails. You may have even suffered pain from your toenails. Those statements used to describe me, but with the help of my family and podiatrist, my toenails have returned to a strong, clear and beautiful state. The journey wasn't always easy, and it forced me to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research. As a result, I learned everything you can find in these blog posts. I see other people with painful looking toenails on the street, and I want to help them with some pointers, but walking up to strangers – however well intentioned – is a bit beyond my comfort levels so I decided to create this blog. I hope it helps and entertains you!