Do you experience an ache or pain on your heel everytime you get up from bed or while putting your feet down? Ayurveda says, this is due to aggravated Vata that causes inflammation of the plantar fascia. Ms. Sheilrani explains to us how the thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of our foot connectingthe heel bone to the toes plays a major role in troubling the heel. She says that this is common problem among the aged.
There are many ways to take care of your feet at home itself. One wayto prevent heel pain is by oiling the soles of your foot every day. In the dinacharya or the Ayurvedic prescription this should be done daily. According to Ayurveda, oiling not just the feet but the whole body is important to keep diseases at bay. Another three areas of the body that are important to oil are the ears, the head and the soles of the feet.Ayurveda Vaidyas say that these should be oiled without fail everyday.
These three areas are considered to be the most sensitive to aggravation of Vata and hence the need to be oiled. Definitely, one would have much less pain in the head, ear or foot if one were to oil them regularly. This is as far as prevention is concerned from the Ayurvedic point of view.
Heel pain or plantar fasciitis is said to be common among runners, obese people, those who have flat feet or high arches, those who have tight calf muscles and those who wear improper footwear. Doing some mild Yoga-like exercise helps in alleviating the heel pain.
Hold the heel and bend the toes and the ankle towards the leg. Hold for about 10 seconds and then release. Repeat this about ten times. Any exercise, which releases a tight calf muscle, will help in reducing the heel pain.
Ayurvedic treatment for heel pain consists of massaging the soles of the feet with Dhanwantaram tailam and Pinda tailam.
Take equal parts of the two tailams and heat it mildly. Apply from the top of the toe to the heel longitudinally; also apply the oil across the heel of the foot. Apply the oil liberally. After about 15 minutes, soak the feet in warm water in which lime juice or fermented rice water is added.
This when practised for about one or two weeks along with exercise helps to relieve the pain. Massage can be done regularly to prevent any relapse.
Pinda tailam – This is made from honeybee wax, Rubia cordifolia, resin of Vateria indica, Hemidesmus indicus and Sesame oil.
Dhanwantaram tailam – consists of the dasamoola (group of 10 roots), horse gram, barley, Sida cordifolia, greengram, blackgram, triphala, cardamom, cinnamon, rock salt and a whole host of other herbs.
Many people ask me whether it is possible to be so diligent about oiling oneself daily. Though it is not easy it will surely help prevent various Vata diseases. Charaka lists 80 types of diseases caused by Vata while there are only 40 types of diseases caused by Pitta and only 20 of the Kapha type. Charaka and other Vaidyars stress the importance of keeping Vata in balance and oiling oneself regularly, including thesoles of the feet, to help keep diseases like plantar fasciitis in check.
The writer is retired Additional Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. She can be reached at sheelarani.