If you have heel pain or plantar fasciitis — but still want to stay active — what are your workout options? You clearly don’t want to do something that involves a lot of heel/ankle work, so some aspects of yoga are out, as are mixed martial arts components of workout series like P90X (the last thing you need with plantar fasciitis is Tony Horton barking at you to turn your heel and ankle faster).
Running is clearly also a no-no at this time; in fact, if you do have plantar fasciitis, 3-7 days off running with RICE treatment is optimal.
So, what are your options?
Our Favorite Full-Body Exercises That Won’t Aggravate Heel Pain
Swimming isn’t conventionally thought of as a weight-loss cardio activity, but if you’ve ever watched the Olympics, most swimmers are in amazing shape. That’s not an accident. It’s completely full-body, as in you have to coordinate upper body movements, lower body movements, and even breathing. It’s tremendous for muscle development and stamina as well, and your foot/heel will feel virtually no pressure as it glides through the water.
To make it even easier on your plantar fasciitis, don’t do wall turns; just tap and turn the other way. Bonus: swimming can be done for free in some areas, and typically if you already have a gym membership, there will be some way to access a pool.
With heel/foot pain, pilates is probably a better choice than yoga as a full-body exercise. Think about some of the core Pilates equipment, such as the Reformer, Cadillac, Chairs, and Barrels. Most pilates work doesn’t put you on your feet, and most can be adjusted to remove your feet from the equation if need be.
Here’s the added bonus on this one: pilates is typically focused on (a) body movements and (b) your core, which are probably two of the aspects of your running that were out of alignment to cause your plantar fasciitis. As a result, by doing pilates, you may be strengthening yourself once you get back to running or your typical cardio activities.
Sitting in Bed
Wait, what? No. Really. You can do an entire workout (primarily upper-body, but some lower-body) while sitting in bed. Don’t believe us?
Recumbent Exercise Bike
This is the standard bike you might see in someone’s home office or gym. A 30-minute cycle on here is predominantly lower-body, although some bikes (at membership gyms, typically) offer an option where you can work your arms and shoulders as well. Cycling outdoors can work too, but depending on the area and the levels of pedestrian traffic, you may have to brake and off-bike-brake a lot, which can aggravate your feet.
The key to working out with plantar fasciitis or heel pain
The major rules to remember are:
- Let the foot/heel rest for up to a week
- Definitely no running, unless it’s aqua jogging
- Consider pilates, swimming, sitting in bed, and cycling/recumbent bike
- Ice your feet immediately after your workout
- Don’t overdo it to make sure your heel and foot are healing successfully