HOT STRETCHING TIPS!
In our section on Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises, we give a pretty good summary of the topic: the main recommended stretches and how to do them and what they accomplish. After any doctor visit, though, one gets home and THEN starts thinking of questions they’d like to have asked.
So here we add some more information. For example, our first Stretching Tip — Make Stretching a Pleasure Instead of a Pain — REALLY makes sense after one has tried the stretching exercises for a while. You take some time maybe in the morning, maybe in front of the TV, and one-by-one run through each stretch, the recommended number of times, each time holding the stretch for the recommended amount of time, and it quickly becomes clear that it’s a big block of time and a big pain in the daily schedule. But you don’t HAVE to do them all at once like this; if you do them at convenient times throughout the day, it’s easier and it feels better and you’re more likely to keep doing it.
Tip #1: Make Stretching a Pleasure Instead of a Pain
Mr. Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, writes in to say, “Hey, Rosanne Rosanadana, I know I gotta do the stretches but I don’t, cuz it takes so long every day, and like I got a half-hour-to-45-minute block of time in my day, EVERY day?”
Fact is, even if a lot of people start out making that time, a lot of people start letting it slide into pretty much not doing it. But stretching may be the most important thing you can do in self-curing plantar fasciitis. So why do so many people shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak, by not doing the specific stretches they need for as long as they need and as many times as they need?
Because the alternative is spending a large block of time every day in the agonizingly slow kabuki dance of stretching, holding, relaxing, again and again, then doing more “sets”and that’s only with the one stretch, and you move onto the next exercise and once again start stretching, holding, relaxing and stretching and stretching on the torture rack of boredom until you go mad.
The secret is, you do NOT have to set aside a time to do your exercises. Instead, just do them throughout the day. When you’re near a counter-top, or maybe a railing by a loading dock — anything you can lean against. Or that great Stair-Drop Stretch in Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises, for another example. You’re always using stairs. I often pause on stairs, or stop by a set of stairs, just to take a few stair-drop stretches. Always feels good.
Says North Carolina Foot and Ankle Surgeon Dr. W. Hodges Davis, “I tell my patients I’d rather they stretch for 30 seconds six or seven times a day than one time for three minutes. I’d rather have people stretch all day.”
Like the “dorsiflexion” stretch on the PF-help Web site [link below], for example: It’s my favorite, one that seems to make the most difference in my own PF, but I do NOT sit on the edge of the bed, or on a chair, and crank the toes with my hand. In my case, there is a kitchen counter with a solid base, and whenever I sit there on a stool I slide off a shoe and put the toes against the counter base and press foot down until sole is on floor but toes are pressed firmly UP. Sitting there eating, reading the paper, watching the counter-top TV or chatting with the family, I can maintain this stretch for a long, long time, periodically releasing it for a rest, then pressing against the counter base again. My GOD is it good! Makes such a world of difference that I can feel when I stand up and start walking again.
Wherever you are, throughout the day and evening, you can always work in a stretch here, a repetition there. If you only do stretching when you have a big block of time for it … it probably ain’t gonna happen. And neither will your PF recover.
Stretching exercises might look like a hassle, if you judge from the words used to describe them in our Plantar Fasciitis Stretching Exercises Web page, but the movements/poses are pretty simple. Shame to miss them, and self-cure, by thinking you can’t enjoy the doing of them any time of the day and night. Every time you stop to do some, your foot feels better as soon as you’re finished. Feels So good.
Stretching Tip #2
A lot of the illustrations that show how to stretch show people doing it barefoot. NO BAREFOOT stretching and, in fact, no barefoot at all. When you get out of bed in the morning – even if you’ve had a night splint or done the plantar fascia stretching – you must not walk barefoot, says Ithaca College’s Debbie Nawoczenski. Step into a supportive piece of footwear, a slipper or slip-on shoe with arch support and cushioning.
“You have to be in something supportive,” she says. “Get good slippers and put insoles in the slippers, and inserts that you can get over the counter at a good running store. You want to stretch the plantar fascia but you don’t want it to micro-tear by barefoot walking. I even tell people to put on flip-flops or Crocs when they go into the shower, so they’re still not stressing the plantar fascia.”
When you are doing the Achilles stretch or other stretches (except for the bedside plantar fascia stretch), do it as you do the rest of your day: wear shoes with orthotics. Nawoczenski recommends eliminating barefoot altogether. Everybody likes to walk around the house in socks, but that’s equivalent to walking barefoot. And if you use house slippers, don’t – unless they’ve got good ach support or you first put orthotic arch supports in them.
And just to clarify, she adds, “shoes with orthotics” does not necessarily mean a custom arrangement, it can be an over-the-counter insole, just something supportive of the sole of the foot.
Stretching Tip #3
Also not made clear in many instructions, and some illustrations: stretching should be done slightly pigeon toed, or toe-in. During the Achilles stretches and during the stair-drop stretch.
According to Nawoczenski, “Toe-in during the stretch helps keep the arch from collapsing or dropping – and that is important for the Achilles. Otherwise, if the arch collapses (a person becomes ‘flat-footed’ during the stretch) then the stretch may occur in the midfoot/arch rather than the Achilles tendon. This may place increased stress on the soft tissues of the foot itself, and that is problematic for someone who already has foot pain.”
Reader Input: We welcome any comments on your own experience and insights, things you’ve tried and how it worked, etc.