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Fantastic Feet Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis and Bunions

Posted Oct 20 2009 10:01pm

I recently received these great questions from Cynthia about picking the right exercises from my book Fantastic Feet to help with plantar fasciitis and bunion issues. Thought that there might be a few other people out there searching for solutions for foot care and foot exercises that will benefit these two common foot problems.

Here are her questions about Plantar Fasciitis and Bunions and my suggestions to benefit healthier and happier feet:

Dear Aliesa,

I must say that I have just recently pulled out your book, Fantastic Feet! Exercises to Strengthen the Ankles, Arches, and Toes. I bought it a few years back. I have had plantar fasciitis in my life and also bunions. Now my 14 year old son has very sore feet from soccer….so much running. I pulled it out to see where I can help him. I want to give him a limited number of exercises that would give him the most benefit but with the least amount of time since it will be hard for me to keep his interest….that is also true of me. I would greatly appreciate your advice in that area. I know it is his heel that hurts but it does not seem like what I had as far as plantar fasciitis. It looks like his whole bottom of his foot hurts.

In your book, I would like to be able to see a foot ailment and the exercise or exercises that would most benefit that area whether it be sitting or standing. That would allow me to pick and choose which ones are best for what is happening right now. I think the problem is that I am pressed for time so a suggestion on what to do if you have 5 min, 10 min, 15 min etc would be good. It looks overwhelming as it is, though it may not be, it just looks that way.

Thanks, Cynthia

_________________________________________________

Hi Cynthia!

Glad that you pulled my book off your shelf and are revisiting the foot-care exercises in Fantastic Feet! I know it’s a challenge to get teenagers to do things that are good for them, but if he can learn some things now, hopefully they will be tools he can use for a lifetime to keep him pain and injury-free.

It would be great if I could see him for a Pilates session. I could give you a better idea from a posture and body alignment standpoint as to what might be contributing to the problem. If you’ve got access to a local Pilates studio, you might consider scheduling him for a lesson or two to try it as a cross-training tool, there are many exercises on the Reformer and Cadillac that would really help to stretch and strengthen his legs and feet.

For some general guidelines to pick good exercises from the Fantastic Feet book keep reading below:

I know it’s beyond difficult to get him to slow down and rest, but when our body has a part that is screaming – most of the time that is a message we should listen to!

For plantar fasciitis, the best foot care exercises will be ones that flex the foot and stretch the Achilles tendon.

In Fantastic Feet! I’d start with the L-sit exercises to get the toes and ankles moving well against zero resistance, and then progress into the Theraband series.

If he could cross-train doing something besides running to get some cardio conditioning time in without being on his feet (especially when they hurt) it would be advantageous. Cycling and swimming come to my mind as great options! Rowing would be good too! The more calf stretching he can do throughout the day the better. And of course Pilates Reformer work would be excellent.

Not sure if when you purchased Fantastic Feet, I had the Foot Fitness Kit for sale. It includes a black theraband and massage ball that would be great for him.

Rolling the sole of his foot with different sizes and shapes of balls would be helpful to release tension in the fascia on the sole of the feet.  Try any or all of these: – tennis ball, softball, baseball, golf ball, super ball….

If you have not purchased a pair of the Yamuna Foot Savers – they are a must to help Plantar Fasciitis problems!

They will hurt like ******!!! but only if your feet need them. Very quick and easy, you just stand on them and breathe! Sounds simple enough. You start standing on your heels and take a few breaths, then progress forward through the foot to the toes. Really helps to release the tension along the muscles and fascia on the sole of the foot.

You can purchase a pair of Foot Savers and other great foot care products by clicking here.   Foot Savers are very portable, I usually keep a pair at home, one in my gym bag, and always take them with me when I travel. When the bottoms of my feet start to bug me because I’ve upped my mileage walking or running, I usually back off on the miles a bit and double or triple up the number of times a week I’m using my Foot Savers until my feet don’t hurt.

As a teenage boy, your son has a few challenges right now to stay healthy and avoid the risk of additional injury:

1. He’s still growing. So his bones may be getting longer faster than his muscles, tendons, and ligaments want to stretch to keep up with the spurts.

2. He’s active and athletic, and may not be stretching enough to warm-up and cool-down after his sports activities.

3. He’s at an age that he thinks he’s invincible.

4. He’s probably not going to be inclined to stick with the exercises he needs to do. (Unless you can get his soccer coach to include the right exercises into their warm-up and cool-down before and after practices! Which would be a fantastic way to keep the whole team healthy!)

5. He may or may not be willing to listen to his mother tell him what to do! (If not, find someone who can better relate to him – coach, doctor, physical therapist, podiatrist, personal trainer, Pilates teacher…..an “authority figure” who can both relate to his athletic goals and relay the information he needs to hear for exercises, rest, and appropriate action to stay healthy, pain, and injury-free.)

The types of shoes he’s wearing will make a difference.

Avoid flip-flops! They will shorten his stride and tighten the muscles on the bottom of his foot making plantar problems worse. Any shoe that isn’t strapped to your ankle will create this problem and aggravate plantar fasciitis.

If you haven’t downloaded my “How To Tie Your Tennies” handout – here’s the link.

This helpful trick will keep the arches lifted when wearing a tennis shoe, or any lace up shoe. This should help the bottom of his feet feel better too! So download these directions and change how you’re tying all of your shoes. I even tie my inline skates this way!

For Bunion issues, the best series of exercises in the Fantastic Feet book would be the “Terrific Toe Series” especially the Knuckles, Big Toe, Little Toe, and Big & Little Toe exercises.

Use your hands as much as you need to for assistance until the toe muscles get stronger. Your goal is to strengthen the muscles of the foot to help hold the bones in better alignment, so you don’t “give in” to the drifting direction your toes are headed because of a bunion. If your toes are drifting and rotating – use your fingers to help keep the bones “un-rotated” to lay facing straight up in a normal position throughout the exercises. I have seen toes change pretty dramatically by practicing these exercises. Be consistent and you’ll notice changes quickly.

I do offer Fantastic Feet workshops, if you have a group of people you’d like to get together, friends, church group, local gym, Pilates studio, team, or club to host an event and get some “hands-on” toe tips with me – let me know. It’s always much more fun to get to see your feet and play with the details of the exercises to fine-tune your technique and answer your questions!

This should get you started. You’ve asked some great questions. Thanks for the feedback. When I get around to revising the book – I’ll see if I can add some insights for specific foot issues. But basically, if you can incorporate some of the Fantastic Feet exercises into your weekly routine, regardless of your issues, stretching and strengthening the entire foot and ankle will help to reduce problems and risk of injury.

When I wrote the book, I tried to break things into sections so you can actually pick a section and do the series of exercises as a quick workout. Most sections should take 10-15 minutes to run through the series of foot-care exercises as a foot fitness workout.

When in doubt, I always start with the Terrific Toe Series, then work into the L-Sit, Hook-Sit, Chair, Thera-band, and finally Standing Exercises.  This allow you to begin in a non-weight bearing position to change some of your movement habits with less stress, and gradually progresses you back to where you really need to be using your foot and ankle muscles correctly – on your feet to walk and run!

I also have to say that foot pain is not OK! When in doubt I strongly encourage you to seek the professional advice of a Podiatrist, or medical professional.

Keep me posted on your progress! I look forward to hearing how things go with getting your son practicing a quick foot fitness routine, and the benefits and results he gets from the exercises.

If you have any other questions I can help with, please let me know.

Peace & Blessings,

Aliesa

www.Centerworks.com

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