prostretch plus

Photo: Courtesy of Medi-Dyne

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A Stretching Device That Could Save Your Soles
What: The ProStretch Plus, $40

What for: Plantar fasciitis (aka heel pain)

How it works: This rocker has a V-shaped platform to help stretch out the inflamed muscles and tissues on the bottom of the foot.

Why it might help: While the research on stretching as a cure for plantar fasciitis is inconclusive, one systematic review published in 2011 did suggest that stretches that get directly to the plantar fascia (which runs along the bottom of the foot) may provide better short-term relief than stretching the Achilles or other parts of the lower leg. The catch is that the bottom of the foot is a notoriously tricky area to stretch.

One more thing: These wobbly, unstable devices are ideal for those who have already used them under the supervision of a PT (they tend to be big fans). If you've never used one and you're naturally klutzy, you might want to try orthotics instead: Hillary Brenner, DPM, a podiatrist in Manhattan, recommends models from Powersteps and Superfeet. The clinical research is inconclusive for this treatment, too, but Brenner says that 90 percent of her patients claim the orthotics helped their pain.