Whether you’ve been feeling foot discomfort for a while or you’re new to the toll diabetics takes on your heels, pain can sometimes get to an unbearable point. Fortunately, there are exercises for diabetics that can help manage and find relief from heel pain. First and foremost, however, we think it‘s important that you’re aware of some tips to help put into motion—or avoid—to help you manage and reduce your heel pain.
If you find yourself on your feet trying to stay fit at the gym, some weight-bearing exercises can actually be traced back to being the culprit of heel pain.
Tips to help you reduce Heel Pain:
- Stay away from high-impact exercises: Certain exercises for diabetics like running and jumping can leave you in pain from the pounding in your feet.
You know you need to get your cardio in—fortunately, there are a ton of different low-impact cardiovascular exercises and machines that you work with that can help keep the impact down, thus reducing your heel pain. Cardio is important in someone with diabetes because of its positive influence in vascular health—as well as its ability to improve blood flow to your hands and your feet.
For some choices on low-impact cardio, swimming and cycling (indoor or outdoor) are great options to reduce the pounding on your joints and feet. You can also try out some of the other machines in the gym dedicated to low or no impact cardio, like the elliptical machine.
- Performing strength training while seated can help you maintain balance and improve your health: In your body, your muscle, insulin, and vascular health are all pretty connected, which means if you’re working one you’re definitely working the others.
There are so many different exercises for diabetics—even seated machines that can strengthen your legs and upper body. You should also be implementing these strength training sessions around twice a week while still including the recommended 20-30 minutes per day of cardio.
- Balance and work on your stability can also help with heel pain: The more centered you are, the less likely you’ll shift your weight to your heels or various parts of your feet. Working on your core can also decrease the risk of falling, which can help you stay healthy and uninjured.
Best Exercises For Diabetics For Heel Pain
For some more to-do tasks that you can implement in your everyday routine, here are three quick exercises for diabetics to knock out every morning before taking on your day:
- Calf raises: To help you not only strengthen but also stretch out the calf muscles, this exercise can help focus on elongating that plantar fascia and Achilles’ tendon. The shortening of these two areas is generally linked to heel pain.
You can do this exercise on the step in front of your house, on a ledge or curb on a sidewalk or even on something as simple as a block of wood or book. Make sure you have somewhere to lean on for balance, like a wall or table within reaching distance. Whenever you’re ready, stand on the ledge (step, curb, book, etc.) and let your heels hang out. Holding on for balance, lean forward and stretch your calf muscles. Once you feel that stretch, holding it for 10-15 seconds, push up on your toes, balancing yourself on the balls of your feet. If you want, you can also hold at full extension (at the top) for 1-2 seconds. Go up and down 10-15 times. You can complete this exercise with both feet at once or one at a time.
- Grab and go: You can easily do this exercise while you’re watching TV or eating dinner. Using your smaller toe muscles can help, in-turn strengthen your ligaments that stretch out to the sole and heel of your foot.
Using an unbreakable cup or bowl, place it on the floor while scattering pebbles, marbles or other, easy-to-grab small objects around. When you’re ready, go around the cup and pick up the various pieces with your toes. Once you’ve got a hold of it, bring it to the cup (or bowl) and drop it inside. Do this for about ten minutes or until fatigue sets in.
- Another toe exercise: Also known as the “washcloth exercise”, this simple task can be done while sitting at the dinner table, having a chat with family and friends or even relaxing in your living room.
By placing a washcloth, shirt or towel right in front of your feet while you’re seated, you’ve already set up all the tools necessary for this exercise. Aiming for the towel or cloth in front of you, reach out and grab it with your toes, pulling it towards you and underneath your feet. Doing this motion while tugging on the resistance will help strengthen your plantar fascia. An important part to note here is that you want work both of your feet equally—whether that means focusing on diving the efforts between both of them at once or doing the exercise one foot at a time. You can do this every afternoon you sit to watch TV for ten minutes.
All in all, these exercises and stretches should at least give you the minimum amount of relief or help when it comes to heel pain. However, aside from the physical work you’re putting in, other factors can also contribute to lessening or reducing heel pain. For example, steady treatments like icing or heat, maintaining your diet along with your exercising and healthy lifestyle, while also implementing the use of orthotic support can help you find relief from heel pain. Before you get started on these stretches or exercises for diabetics, consult your doctor to see if you’re able to do them or if they direct you to different movements.