I want to talk to you a little bit about stretching exercises. Now stretching exercises are an important adjunct to therapy for many of the conditions that I treat in my office such as heel pain or plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and various other strains and sprains and tendonitis type of conditions. It’s important to stretch the Achilles tendon which is the longest and strongest tendon in the body that inserts on the back of the heel bone and then continues on the bottom of the foot as the plantar fascia. Now that’s because a tight Achilles tendon will force the foot to pronate; that means that it’ll flatten out the arch more which leads to pain on the bottom of the foot such as plantar fasciitis, and can also strain the Achilles tendon leading to Achilles Tendonitis. Therefore, an Achilles tendon that is stretched out and loose will relieve a lot of the pressure on the bottom of the foot and these stretching exercises will also loosen up the plantar fascia.
Now one way that you can stretch out the Achilles tendon is to lean both hands against the wall, to put the leg that’s affected behind you, and as you lean into the wall you’re going to feel that stretch and that burn on the back of the Achilles tendon. You’re not necessarily going to feel it on the bottom of the foot, but the plantar fascia is stretching out as well. Usually I recommend doing this 5-10 times so that you really feel a good stretch in the Achilles tendon. You can also do this type of stretch from a sitting position by pulling the toes way up toward the nose and doing that 5-10 times or even by pushing the foot against the wall. And this is something that you can do throughout the day, just sitting at a desk and to do this before you get up so you can anticipate the pain that patients generally feel before they get up from a sitting position. You runners out there will also want to start stretching out the Achilles tendon and this is very important to do after a run and it’s important to do it as well before the run and to make sure that you are warming up before a run. There are other stretching exercises available as well and these can be found on the website. So, if you’re having any sort of heel pain, Achilles Tendonitis, or any other type of strain in the foot or ankle, it’s important to start stretching and get it evaluated as soon as possible.