When you suffer from plantar fasciitis, exercise can be complicated. High impact, aerobic activities like jogging, hiking, and even walking on hard surfaces can make your feet and heels hurt.
What’s an active person with plantar fasciitis to do? Low impact aerobic exercises are a great way to stay active while avoiding stress to your plantar fascia. One of the most popular is using an elliptical machine to exercise.
Why Use the Elliptical for Plantar Fasciitis?
Elliptical exercise is an ideal cross-training method to stay in shape while resting your feet to avoid re-injury while you recover from plantar fasciitis.
The elliptical allows your feet to remain in place while your leg muscles do all the work. Workouts can be as intense or as mild as you prefer, depending on how quickly you stride and the elevation of the elliptical machine — all without straining your plantar fascia!
Benefits of Elliptical Exercise for Heel Pain
Many health experts predict that elliptical exercise may surpass the treadmill in popularity among workout equipment. According to recent studies, the machine burns approximately the same amount of calories as a treadmill and offers several unique benefits when it comes to heel pain and plantar fasciitis:
Weight Loss: Rapid or chronic weight gain is strongly linked with plantar fasciitis and heel pain because of the strain additional weight puts on the plantar fascia. Maintaining a healthy weight through aerobic exercise can lessen this strain and impact.
Strengthening Core Muscles and Ligaments: When you strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support your feet and heels — like your thighs, calves, and tendons — you reduce the likelihood of reinjury to your arch!
Low Impact Cross Training: For active individuals, it can be stressful and disappointing to some forms of exercise and training while healing from plantar fasciitis. The elliptical allows you to maintain cardiovascular health without the dangers of high impact activity.
Using the Elliptical for Weight Loss When You Have Plantar Fasciitis
Because of the connection between healing from plantar fasciitis and maintaining a healthy weight, elliptical exercise can also be a great tool for weight loss. If you’re hoping to shed a few pounds using the elliptical, keep in mind that calories burned will depend on your weight and the intensity of your workout. Someone who is 125 pounds will burn an average of 540 calories in one hour of moderate elliptical exercise, while someone who is 185 pounds will burn approximately 800 calories in a hour.
Keep an eye on your heart rate while you exercise, and stay within a healthy zone for your physical condition. Remember, exercising regularly will yield the best results for weight loss, so commit to an exercise routine that includes three or four days per week of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise.
Ideas for Elliptical Exercises
There are a number of ways you can use elliptical exercise to improve heel pain and plantar fasciitis. Remember to listen to your body and consult your doctor with any exercise regimen, to avoid re-injury or pushing yourself too hard.
HIIT Workouts or Interval Training: Try varying the speed and intensity in intervals, sometimes known as HIIT (high intensity interval training). Alternate between giving it your all, and slowing your pace to recover. Research shows this will keep your heart rate higher consistently, and burn more fat.
Isolating Areas of the Body: Experiment with moving the elliptical machine using just your arms, just your legs, or cycling backward. Varying your workout will keep you engaged and will exercise more muscle groups.
Exercise to Music: While some research indicates that watching TV can diminish the quality of your workout, music has been shown to help you stay more engaged and even enjoy your workout more. Experiment with different types of music to find out what makes you feel the best.
Four More Ways to Get Your Feet in Shape
These daily exercises work the small muscles in your feet and ankles to enhance mobility and keep them pain-free, say physical therapists and orthopedic experts. And while you’re at it, remember to find the right running shoes for your feet, too.
- Heel and Toe Walks: Spend a minute walking on your heels, then toes.
- Toe “Lifts”: Pick up a marble with your toes. Hold 20 counts; repeat twice; switch feet. Too easy? Lift one toe at a time.
- Foot Taps: Sit with your feet flat on the floor and tap them 50 times, keeping heels down.
- Toe “Spelling”: Elevate one foot; write the alphabet with your toes (ankle will flex); switch feet