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Combating or Causing Heel Pain: Is Yoga to Blame for Your Heel Pain?

Yoga can cause or combat heel pain according to the pose and how it’s done. Learn what type of yoga you should avoid and what to practice to relieve heel pain.
By 

Janik Sundstrom

 on July 29, 2022. 
Reviewed by 

Kirsty Macdougall

While yoga is a gentle form of exercise with several health benefits, yoga can also cause heel pain if done incorrectly. In particular, it can worsen plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation in the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot arch.

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by overstretching or overuse of the fascia in the underside of the foot, seen commonly in people practicing daily yoga or those who are new to yoga. Yoga poses done on hard surfaces while putting the majority of your weight on the heel can also cause heel pain.

Yoga Poses That Combat Heel Pain

Although these minor risks are involved, it is widely accepted that yoga provides many benefits for heel pain when done correctly.

Here are a few poses that can help to combat heel pain:

Downwards-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

The downwards-facing dog is a great way to gently apply a continual stretch to the calf muscles and the muscles of the back of the leg. Hold the pose for 15–20 seconds, allowing time for the muscles to lengthen, or move according to the instructor. 

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Standing with your feet facing forward, about shoulder-width apart, and your arms overhead, bend the knees slowly as if you're sitting on a chair. This exercise aims to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet while applying a gentle stretch to the calf muscles, specifically the soleus muscle. 

Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana) With Toes Flexed

You can modify the normal thunderbolt pose by going onto your knees while tucking the toes under your feet and stretching the soles of the feet. The stretch should be applied gradually and equally to both feet.

Which Exercises Aggravate Heel Pain?

Stretching exercises are great for plantar fasciitis. However, there is a clear link between overstretching and heel pain due to aggravation of the structures around the area and lower leg.

Other exercises that can worsen heel pain include ballet, long-distance running, and aerobics, as they place the heel under added strain.

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