We recently stumbled upon a discussion with Yetta McGovern at the Yoga Curious blog about how to practice yoga while suffering from Plantar fasciitis. The first respondent from the evolation collective hadn’t had a personal experience of the problem, but after talking to one of the senior yoga teachers, and leader at our immersion teacher training, we realized there was an opportunity for a more complete answer about yoga for plantar fasciitis. We hope the following gives you a good idea of how to adapt your practice for this problem.
practicing yoga with plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a very troublesome and painful inflammatory condition of the plantar fascia and ligaments on the plantar (underside) surface of the foot. There are many different things that can cause this condition. Sometimes it can appear due to overuse or improper use of that part of the body. Sometimes it can be chronic (longstanding) other times it can be acute (quick onset and then dissipates). To understand what can help this painful condition, it is necessary to think about the tissues that are affected. Fascia and ligaments are avascular tissues (tissues without blood vessels) and are also fairly dense and less hydrated than muscle tissue.To affect these tissues with stretching, and with yoga, one has to go about that in a different way compared to when targeting a muscle or muscle group. Tissues that are more dense, less hydrated, and have less circulation need long, sustained stretch and stress on them for change to take place.
target the fascia with yin yoga
So, in my own personal experience working with plantar fasciitis in my feet, the type of yoga that has helped me most has been yin yoga.
Yin yoga targets the fascia of the body, with each posture lasting much longer than other styles of yoga: anywhere from 3-10 minutes per pose. A yin posture that specifically targets the plantar surface of the feet is called: toes pose.
You sit in a kneeling position, with the toes curled under and let more and more weight settle onto the heels as time passes. It may be very difficult at first, but try to work your way up to holding this for 2.5 to 3 minutes, visualizing the bottoms of the feet letting out, getting soft, gaining length. Using the breath is absolutely necessary to be able to hold the pose for a long time, especially when it gets tough.
Besides directly working the bottoms of the feet, focusing on opening the calves is extremely important in treatment of plantar fasciitis. The tendons of the deep muscles of the calf wrap around and under the foot so extra tension or overuse of those muscles as well can put extra stress on the bottom of the foot. So any yoga poses that put a deep stretch to the calf muscles will be helpful as well.