Calcaneus palpation/exercises

Let's try a couple exercises to get a better sense of your heel bones. If you have questions about the language in this post, look back at Meet Your Calcaneus.

First, have a seat, cross one ankle over the opposite leg and use your fingers to palpate (feel) your heel bone. How does the bone feel to you? Look at the pictures from the anatomy post and see if you can trace the whole length of the bone. Knowing that muscles, tendons and ligaments lie on top, imagine you can go below the tissue layer and really put your intention on the bone. Repeat on your other foot.

Heel rocks. Now stand on two feet in parallel (2nd toes pointing forward with kneecaps aligned--approximately :)). Take a moment to just feel your weight in your heel bones. You may feel slightly pronated or supinated. This is ok and normal! Shift your weight so you feel more on the outside of your right calcaneus and the inside of your left, then switch sides, repeating a few times. This may be easier on one side than the other. Now turn this side-to-side motion into a circle, 6-10 times in each direction. Try to make the circle smooth and feel as much of your heel into the floor as you can.

You might feel a little bit like this, but don't get too crazy:

Here's a trick for releasing. Often times, this can help with plantar fasciitis or tightness in the ankles and calves. Place a pinky ball right in front of your calcaneus, ever so slightly to the inside of your foot. Try to stand on both feet, putting as much weight into the foot with the pinky ball as in your other leg. This area may be VERY tight. Try to take 10 breaths here and let the tissue relax. Repeat on the other side. 

Stretch your calves! A good ol' calf stretch (standing in a shallow lunge) does wonders for releasing the calves and achilles, and can relieve tension through the plantar fascia of the feet. In your calf stretch, go back to your heel rocks and find the place where your calcaneus feels most evenly planted on the floor, finding weight in the back of your heel! Take 8 long breaths with a straight back leg, 8 with a bent back leg. Switch sides.