Reflexology and acupressure are complementary alternative therapies that have been found very effective in relieving pains in all parts of the body. Heel pain or plantar fasciitis is a common problem that affects many people. Applying pressure at certain points on the foot and finding time for some massaging routines will go a long way in managing aching heels. Here are nine acupressure routines that will help.
The tennis ball heel stretch and press
This is a very simple acupressure routine that will relax your heel and rejuvenates it. Find a comfortable hard chair to sit on. Place a tennis ball on the floor and plant your right foot on it. The arch of your foot must rest on the tennis ball. Now, slowly move the ball back and forth with your foot such that it travels all the way forward till the toes and backward till the heel. This exercise stretches the plantar fascia and makes that ligament flexible and agile. This in turn relaxes and takes the stress out from the heels. Repeat the procedure for the other foot too. Instead of a tennis ball, you can also use a rolling pin or a plastic water bottle filled with water for this routine. In fact, freezing the water bottle will also provide a cool relief on a hot summer day!
The toe-top massage
The big toe and second toe of each foot share a big intersection point. At the intersection, move slightly above towards the top of the foot to reach a sensitive acupressure point. With the help of your thumb, apply pressure to this point and hold that way for about a minute. This pressure stimulates better blood flow into the foot. The flow of blood has a great impact in reducing the pains in the heel and the foot in general. At first, the pressure applied may feel a bit strong and cause a bit of a shock. But with a few attempts, the pressure will dissipate and feel tingly and comfortable. Do the same for the other foot too.
The belt stretch and press
This is yet another way of applying pressure at the right spots to ease an aching heel. You will need a belt for this routine. Sit comfortably on the floor with both legs outstretched. Hold each end of the wide belt in each hand. Now, fold your left leg at the knee and place the foot on the ground. Wrap the belt around the middle of the sole of your right foot. Now, pull your right ankle towards you with the belt. This will reverse-stretch the arch of your foot. Repeat this for five times with a relaxation between each time. Then repeat the same for the left foot also.
Outer heel press
There is another pressure point region on the sole of your foot which would help a lot in relieving an aching heel. Locate the point on the upper arch of your foot which is about a thumb’s distance away from the ball of your foot. Draw an imaginary line on this upper arch. Massage this region with your thumb for about 3-5 minutes. For greater pressure, use your knuckles. For best results, use the other end of a pencil or a pen to apply pressure. The advantage of the pen or pencil is that they keep the pressure focused. Do the same for the other foot also.
Inner heel massage
The heel in itself is home to many massage points and applying pressure on it brings great relief. If you observe, the heel has two portions. The inner and central portion is relatively soft. Sit comfortably on a chair and place your right foot on your left thigh. With your left thumb, gently press the inner heel area. You could also make use of the back end of a pencil to do the same. Massage this way for about 3-5 minutes and repeat the same procedure for the other foot as well.
Outer heel massage
The outer part of the heel is hard and forms an outer ring around the heel. Applying pressure on this also brings great relief to painful heels.Sit on a chair with the foot of one leg over the thigh of the other. Massage the outer heel between the thumb and index finger of your hand. Apply as much pressure as you can . Massage this way for about 3 minutes and repeat the same for the other foot as well.
The back heel press
The portion at the back of your heel contains a pressure point that not only relieves the pain in the heels but also brings relief from an aching back. Locate this point which is at the back of your heel, bang opposite to the second toe of your foot. Press this point with your thumb or with the back end of a pencil for about 3 minutes. Repeat the same for the other foot also.
Achilles tendon massage
An interesting way to relieve the heel of its burden and thus the pain is to strengthen the other parts of the foot as well. The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to the ankle, foot and calf muscles. Locate this tendon as the small strip that connects the two protruding bones on your ankle. With a gentle inward motion, apply pressure on this strip from both sides. Use your index finger and thumb to do this and repeat the same for the other foot as well.
Going along the same logic of strengthening the other parts of the foot to relieve the stress on the heel, toe presses are helpful. Being located at the opposite end of the heel, they counterbalance the weight on the heel. Gently press each toe between the thumb and index finger and increase the pressure gradually. Hold this way for about a minute each and treat each toe in this manner. Repeat the same for the other foot as well.