You’ve probably heard about the many health benefits of yoga by now–including flexibility, strength, and mental clarity.
But did you know that yoga is also a great way to treat foot pain?
Plantar fasciitis, which primarily manifests as pain in the arch and heels of the feet, is a direct result of trauma, damage, and weakness to the plantar fascia.
Which means that exercises that strengthen and stretch the foot are excellent tools for healing and getting in touch with your body.
So, what are the best yoga poses for improving your plantar fasciitis?
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to avoid stretches that put a lot of pressure on your arch or heels, or that require sudden movements. Standing poses, poses that stretch calves and Achilles tendon, and poses that gently stretch the arches of your feet are ideal.
1. Toes Pose:
This pose, found in Yin Yoga, targets the fascia of the body to stretch, strengthen, and elongate it.
To do Toes Pose, sit in a kneeling position. Then slowly lift up on your toes, with your knees still anchored in front of you on the ground. Gently let your weight settle back onto your heels, and hold this pose for between two and three minutes. Don’t get discouraged if this is difficult at first, or if you can’t hold the pose for this long. As you do this pose, imagine your fascia elongating and becoming more flexible. Don’t forget to breathe calmly and deeply through this pose.
2. Garland Pose:
Garland pose stretches the ankles and calves for increased flexibility and strength in critical muscles that support your arch.
To do Garland pose, squat on the floor with your heels flat on the ground and your feet close together and your thighs apart. As you exhale, lean forward so that your torso fits between your thighs. Now, bring your hands together as you gently press your elbows against your inner knees. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then slowly release.
3. Tadasana (Mountain Pose):
Standing poses like this one are a great way to strengthen your legs and feet, stretch the fascia, and relax your body.
To do Tadasana, stand upright with your feet parallel and your big toes just barely touching. Lift the balls of your feet gently, then lower them back down. Rock your body side to side, then back and forth, finally coming to a standstill with your weight balanced across both feet.
4. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose):
This pose is great for people whose feet are fatigued and strained from spending a lot of time standing. Along with stretching the feet, it stretches the hips, thighs, and calves.
To do Bound Angle Pose, sit down and straighten your back. Then, bend your knees and bring them toward your pelvis until the soles of your feet touch. For support, you can hold your feet with your hands. Use your hands to pull your feet into your body as much as possible, then gently press your knees downward toward the floor. Hold for 1-3 minutes, release, and repeat. As you become more accustomed to this pose, you can increase the difficulty by slowly flapping your knees up and down, like a butterfly.
5. Prancing Feet Pose:
This pose is great for building flexibility and strength in your fascia and toes.
To do Prancing Feet Pose, assume a basic standing position. Now, smoothly lift one heel off the ground and roll onto your toes. Place that foot back on the ground and repeat the motion with the opposite foot. Continue alternating sides in a fluid prancing motion. If you feel off balance, hold onto a table or back of a chair while you do Prancing Feet Pose.
Yoga can be a terrific way to treat your foot and heel pain, but remember that healing takes time. Regularly stretching and strengthening your plantar fascia will promote healing and will strengthen the surrounding muscles and ligaments, allowing your arch to better support weight and resist further injury.
Whether you decide to join a class or do these stretches in your own home, you can find motivation knowing that 90% of cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated without medical help. Meaning, these relaxing mornings of yoga are making a big difference–without a big bill!
How To Maximize Yoga for Heel and Foot Pain
One of the greatest advantages of yoga as a form of exercise is that it can actually heal your body, as opposed to more traditional aerobic-type exercise which puts a great deal of strain and impact on your body (think of running, as a main example). As a result, when you have heel pain, foot pain, or plantar fasciitis, yoga can be an extremely effective outlet.
Take a Yoga Class
While yoga does exist at a beginner’s level, it typically requires some fundamental knowledge about breathing, poses, and overall control of your body. As a result, we’d recommend starting with a yoga class, or a series of yoga classes. This will help you get acquainted with how yoga works, which will ultimately lead to maximum effectiveness for you.
Yoga Stretches Focusing on Your Feet and Heels
In terms of heel pain, yoga is most effective because of the stretching involved. Yoga stretches help the calf muscles and Achilles tendon remain loose, as well as strengthening the muscles in your feet. The overall focal point of yoga stretching is releasing energy in the joints of your feet in order to release impurities and other toxins from that area. This all helps with long-term relief from heel pain.
Using Yoga to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
The final thing to remember about yoga is that it’s often used as a supplement, or add-on, to the other things you’re doing to treat heel pain or plantar fasciitis — and while it’s often preferred by women, it works just as well for men too.
Want to see even faster results? Use these yoga poses in combination with other natural remedies for plantar fasciitis to put your feet back on the path to healing faster than you can say “Bandhakonasana.”