Spent the night walking in high heels? Have a job that keeps you on your feet all day? Use these easy yoga moves to ease achy feet.
Whether you suffer from plantar fasciitis, flat feet, or other foot issues, foot pain can affect your entire body, all the way from your toes to your neck. Below, we’ll cover the most common foot issues and how yoga can help soothe and strengthen sore feet.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Your plantar fascia is the sheath of tissue that runs along the sole of the foot and helps maintain the proper arch in your foot. The plantar fascia often becomes inflamed from overuse during activities like running and walking. Once it becomes inflamed, you’ll feel pain along the heel and the sole of the foot. If not taken care of, this pain can quickly begin to travel up the body to the knees, hips, back, and even the neck.
What Are Flat Feet?
The arches of the feet are supported by the ligaments that hold the bones of the feet together. Over time, due to improper footwear, being overweight, genetics, or even inactivity, these ligaments can become loose. Flat feet are often rigid, inflexible, and painful. Flat feet can result in tendonitis and contribute to the development of bunions, shin splints, and pain in the knees and hips.
How Can Yoga Ease Foot Pain?
For both of these conditions, yoga can help by strengthening the plantar fascia and the stabilizing ligaments and tendons of the feet and ankles. For flat feet, this means yoga can help lift the arches back up. Also, certain yoga poses can also help to stretch and release tightness in the calf and shin muscles as well as the bottoms of the feet and the toes.
Yoga to Soothe Sore Feet
Samasthiti with Rolled Mat
This simple modification helps to reduce strain on the plantar fascia and can be used with any standing yoga pose.
- Start by rolling up the top part of your mat 3-4 times. Then, stand in front of your mat, facing away from it.
- Lift your heels one at a time, placing both heels onto the rolled up part of your mat so that your heels are supported by the mat and the balls of your feet and toes are on the floor. Your feet should be hip-width distance apart.
- Stand up tall and bring your palms to meet in front of your chest. Press down through the balls of your feet and firm up your quadriceps. Keep your shoulders down your back, away from your ears, and engage your lower belly. Hold for 8 breaths.
Tip: You have the option to use this rolled up mat while performing the next two poses.
By learning to properly ground down through the feet, this pose strengthens the stabilizing ligaments and muscles around the ankle, calves, and plantar fascia.
- Begin standing with your feet together. Bring your big toes to touch and leave about a half inch of space between your heels.
- Root down through your feet by lifting your toes up and spreading them wide. Press down through your heels and the balls of your big and pinky toes. You should feel a lift through the arches of your feet.
- Reach your arms up overhead and turn your pinkies in slightly. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Firm up your quads and pull your navel up and in towards your spine. Hold for 8 breaths.
This pose helps to strengthen the stabilizing muscles and ligaments around the ankles and feet.
- Begin standing with your feet together. Bring your big toes to touch and leave a half inch of space between your heels. Bring your palms together in front of your chest and engage your abs.
- Shift your weight onto your left foot. Root down into the foot by pressing down firmly through the ball of your big toe and your heel, and feel a lift through the arch of the foot.
- Slowly pick up your right foot, bend your right knee, and place your right foot on the inside of your left calf. Actively press the foot and the calf into one another and stand tall. Hold for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
This pose stretches the calves and hips while strengthening the plantar fascia and the stabilizing tendons and ligaments of the ankles.
- Begin standing up with your feet out wider than hip-width. Turn your toes to point out at 45-degree angles.
- Place your palms together at your chest and engage your abs. Root down through your feet by lifting your toes up and pressing down through the ball mounds of your big and pinky toes.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips towards the ground. Once your hips are low, use your upper arms to press your thighs open while simultaneously squeezing your thighs inward. Lift your chest into your thumbs and squeeze your shoulder blades down your back. Make sure to keep the pinky toe edges of your feet pressing down and your core engaged. Hold for 8 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose relieves tension in the hamstrings, calves, ankles, and the plantar fascia.
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position with your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press down through your knuckles to root down.
- Tuck your toes under and press into your palms to lift your hips up towards the sky. Begin to straighten out your legs and press your chest back towards your thighs, making a V-shape with your body.
- Pull your navel in towards your spine and reach your tailbone up. Keeping your back straight, sink your heels towards the ground. You can always keep a bend in your knees if you need to in order to keep your back straight. Feel the stretch through your calves, Achilles tendons, and feet. Hold for 8 breaths.
Half Tiger Pose
This pose stretches the calves, ankles, and feet.
- Begin in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips in line with your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press the ground away from you to feel a lift between the shoulder blades. Engage your abs and firm up your quadriceps.
- Pick your right foot up off the ground and draw your right knee in towards your chest.
- Pressing firmly through your palms, start to lift your hips up a few inches and drop your left heel closer to the ground. You should feel a stretch through your left calf and ankle. Hold for 8 breaths, then slowly lower down. Switch sides.
This yin yoga pose helps to release tension in the ankles and the plantar fascia.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Bring your legs all the way together, then tuck your toes under.
- Keeping your toes tucked under, slowly walk your hands towards your thighs and sit your hips back on your heels.
- Walk your hands up onto your thighs to lift your chest up and hold for 8 breaths. You should feel the plantar fascia releasing. Hold for 1-2 minutes.
Tip: This pose can feel intense if you have tight feet and ankles. While it should feel slightly uncomfortable as you go into this deep stretch, it should never feel painful. If it becomes painful, come out of the pose.
Vajrasana with Ankle Stretch
This pose helps to stretch the ankles and the shins. If you feel any knee pain in this pose, make sure to come out of it immediately.
- Start in a kneeling position with your legs all the way together and your toes untucked. Sit your hips back on your heels.
- Place your hands behind you with your fingertips pointing forward. Bend your elbows and start to lean back into your palms.
- Continue to lean back into your palms until your knees lift up an inch and you feel the stretch through the front of your shins and ankles.
Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
This pose helps to alleviate tension in the calves and ankles.
- Start by lying down on the floor, facing up. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
- Pick up your right leg and draw your right knee in towards your chest. Straighten your left leg down the mat.
- Take the peace fingers and thumb of your right hand around the big toe of your right foot. Slowly straighten out your right leg above you. It’s ok if the leg doesn’t straighten all the way. You should feel the stretch through your calf and ankle. Hold for 8 breaths, then switch sides.
This pose helps to stretch the front of the shin, ankle, and quadriceps.
- Begin lying down on your belly in a sphinx pose by bending your elbows and propping yourself up on your forearms. Your forearms should be parallel to one another.
- Turn your left forearm to a 45-degree angle so that your left fingertips point towards the top right edge of your mat. Reach your right hand back as you bend your right knee. With your right hand, catch ahold of the inside of your right foot. Draw the foot in closer towards your glutes.
- Pivot your right hand so that your fingertips point forward and you are pressing your palm down into the top of your right foot. Hold for 8 breaths, then switch sides.
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