Heel spurs are formed by deposits of calcium on the bottom of the heel bone. These deposits cause a bony growth that begins at the front of your heel bone and extends toward the arch or toes.

It’s possible for heel spurs to cause pain and discomfort, but many people have heel spurs without having any symptoms.

According to Cleveland Clinic, heel spurs only cause pain in people half of the time. Sometimes you’ll have a heel spur and not feel any pain, and sometimes heel pain can have other causes.

Many people who have heel spurs also have plantar fasciitis, which can contribute to the pain. This condition occurs when the connective tissue, known as the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed and painful. The plantar fascia runs from your heel to your toes and supports the arch of your foot.

While heel spurs may require surgery in some cases, you can do stretches to help to ease the pain and discomfort. These stretches can also relieve pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis. In addition, they help to reduce tightness in the calves, which can contribute to heel pain by causing tension in the plantar fascia.

Here are eight simple exercises that you can do to help ease your symptoms. They can be done all at once or a few times throughout the day.

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1. Foot flex

This simple stretch is especially beneficial to do right when you wake up when you’re sitting up in bed. It stretches the plantar fascia that tightens while you sleep.

  1. Use your hand to pull your toes back toward your shin.
  2. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  3. Do each side two to three times.
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2. Calf stretch on a step

This exercise provides a deep stretch to the calves. This alleviates tension in your feet and improves mobility.

  1. Stand on the ball of your right foot at the edge of a step, with your heel hanging off the step.
  2. Slowly, lower your heel down as far as you can.
  3. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the left foot. Do each side two to four times.
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3. Toe towel grab

This stretch strengthens and stretches the arches of your feet and improves flexibility.

  1. Place a small towel under your foot.
  2. Curl your toes to grip the towel.
  3. Raise the front of your foot off the floor.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  5. Release the towel as you lift up your toes and spread them as far apart as possible.
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4. Wall calf stretch

This stretch deeply stretches your calves and heels. This helps to relieve tightness and pain in your legs and feet, which increases mobility.

  1. Stand a few feet from a wall with your left foot in front of your right foot.
  2. Lean toward the wall as you bend your left knee slightly.
  3. Slowly place your weight into your left foot.
  4. Keep your right knee straight as you lift your right heel off the ground. Feel the stretch along your back calf.
  5. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Do each side two to five times.
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5. Wall squat calf stretch

This exercise targets your calf muscles and helps to increase flexibility and build strength.

  1. Come into a squatting position with your back firmly against a wall. Your hips should be in line with your knees, with your ankles directly underneath.
  2. Slowly lift both heels off the floor.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return your feet to the starting position.
  4. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

For the next three exercises, you can follow along with this helpful video we found or use the directions below:

6. Calf stretch with band

For this stretch, you’ll need a yoga strap or exercise band. You can also use a towel that’s folded lengthwise to make a strap. This exercise stretches your calves, which helps to prevent the muscle from pulling the plantar fascia.

  1. Sit in a chair or lie down on your back.
  2. Place the strap under the arch of your right foot, using both hands to hold the ends.
  3. Use the strap to pull the top of your foot toward you, flexing your foot toward your shin.
  4. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Do each side three to five times.

7. Golf ball roll

This stretch loosens up the fascia along the bottom of your feet, helping to relieve pain in your heel.

  1. Roll a golf ball under your right foot.
  2. Continue for up to 1 minute.
  3. Do each foot two to three times.

8. Walking the dog

This exercise provides a deep stretch to your calf and Achilles tendon. It loosens up your legs and releases tension in your legs and spine.

  1. Come into Downward-Facing Dog with your heels lifted.
  2. One at a time, press your heel into the floor, bending the opposite knee.
  3. Alternate between sides every few seconds, then hold each side for about 30 seconds.

There are several conservative treatments and home remedies that you can do to manage your symptoms such as pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can be taken to alleviate symptoms. Supplements for reducing inflammation are also available.

Here are some ways to treat heel spurs:

  • Ice. Use an ice pack or cold compress on your foot for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. This is especially beneficial at the end of a long day or when you’ve spent a lot of time on your feet. Or, roll a frozen water bottle under your foot. This method incorporates a bit of massage, relieving tightness in the bottom of your foot.
  • Massage. Massaging the arch of your foot helps to relieve pain and promote mobility. Use your fingers and knuckles to deeply massage your foot for 1 to 5 minutes at a time. One technique is to place both thumbs at the center line of your arch and move them to the outer edges of your feet.
  • Inserts. Use cushion inserts in your shoes for additional support and cushioning. Inexpensive options can be purchased off the shelf. Wear supportive shoes with thicker soles and extra cushioning for additional support that can help to reduce tension in the plantar fascia. Kinesiology tape can be used to improve arch and heel support.
  • Night splints. Many people find quick and effective results by using night splints. They can be worn while sleeping to stretch the plantar fascia. They help to keep the plantar fascia relaxed and prevent you from pointing your feet down.
  • Injections. Cortisone injections into the plantar fascia may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT). This is a noninvasive treatment that uses high-energy shockwave impulses to repair plantar fascia tissue. While results aren’t consistent, it’s sometimes used to see if surgery can be prevented.
  • Cryoultrasound therapy. Cryoultrasound therapy may help to treat pain in people who have both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. This technique uses electromagnetic energy and cold therapy to relieve pain.
  • Surgery. Surgery is recommended as a last resort and only after a full year of conservative treatment.

See your doctor if you have severe pain or pain that doesn’t improve after a few weeks of treatment. It’s possible that heel pain could be caused by a condition such as arthritis or tendonitis. Or it could be some type of stress fracture. You may be prescribed physical therapy, chiropractic care, or massage therapy.

Even if your symptoms are mild, you may want to see your doctor to assess your condition and make sure you’re on the road to recovery. This is especially important if you take any medications or have any other health conditions that may be affected by these stretches or treatments.

Consistently doing stretches and exercises can help to reduce pain and inflammation from heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. It’s a good idea to continue doing the stretches even once your feet feel better in order to prevent a recurrence. If your symptoms don’t improve over time or become intensified, you should seek medical treatment. See your doctor if your pain persists, worsens, or becomes severe.