I don't stretch. I have been attacking PF for 2 years now and have gone from indescribable, excrutiating 24-hour a day pain that brought me to tears more often than I want to talk about -- to a now fairly normal life. I can walk 2-3 miles a day if I want (I usually ride my bike, though), I can clean my house, go shopping at the mall for several hours, wait in line -- and not be in constant pain.
I stretched like a good soldier -- and wondered for months on end why it wasn't helping. Now I don't even CARE why it wasn't helping. Against my own better judgment, I stopped and pursued recovery in other directions (Birks, bromelain and low-carb, plus non-weight bearing aerobic exercise have done it for me). Lo and behold...
Beverly, as a person who for many months spent up to 22 hours a day either sitting down or lying down -- and now as a person who is resuming a somewhat normal way of life with pretty low-level pain or no pain at all -- I can tell you that there is no way in heaven or anywhere else that I would hang my heels off a step and lower myself. Even that runners' stretch (leaning up against the wall) used to kill me.
Although lots of people will respond and tell you that 'gentle' is the ticket (and maybe it is) -- there is also something to be said for being in charge of your own treatment and doing what makes you FEEL better. If you continually stretch and continually have pain from it -- maybe you should stop for a couple of weeks and compare. A couple of weeks one way or the other isn't going to delay your recovery in a big way.
I say this not to dissuade you from stretching, but rather to indicate (as I have done a few times on this board) that stretching is not for everyone. Granted, it's for most -- but not for everyone. Do what FEELS better and brings you relief. Good luck with whatever you decide.