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Stretching for PF

Posted by Steve M on 5/29/01 at 21:49 (049288)

Thanks for your thoughts on my post last week.

Regarding calf stretching, both straight leg and bent leg. My DPM recommended these stretches and I have been doing them for about 3 months. I have also added straight leg stretchs with the Pro Stretch. However, sometimes I feel pain in my achilles tendon while doing the stretches and pain on and off for a few days after. The pain is mild to moderate. Should I keep doing the stretches, should I stop the bent leg one. I don't want to develop achilles tendon problems. Thanks in advance for your advice.

Re: Stretching for PF

JudyS on 5/29/01 at 22:48 (049292)

Steve - I'm not a doctor and you will hear from one but meanwhile I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth based on a little bit of experience with the calf stretch. Several folks here have experienced the same Achilles soreness you describe after doing the calf-targeting stretches so you're not aloone there! The weight-bearing part of it is critical so you may want to do stretching that is non weight-bearing for awhile. Trust me, you want to avoid adding Achilles Tendonitis to anything else you may be dealing with.

Re: Stretching for PF

Julie on 5/30/01 at 02:39 (049310)

Hi Steve

I think I would lay off the wall stretches, and, as Judy advises, stick to non weight-bearing exercise.

The acid test with all exercise, if you are doing it in an attempt to heal an injury, is that if it hurts, it is probably doing you no good and may do harm.

I think most DPMs recommend the wall stretches, but my feeling, from my own experience and from many reports on these message boards, is that they are not right for everybody. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they may not be right for most people.

I have two reasons for saying this.

They are weight-bearing exercises, and they can put a strain not only on the achilles tendon, but on the 'weak spot' where the PF injury is: at the point where it inserts in the heelbone. These stretches are meant to target and lengthen tight calf muscles, and they do - and they are excellent for folk with no foot problems. But it now seems obvious to me that they are almost certain to pull on both the fascia and the achilles tendon, with the possibility of increasing the injury to the fascia and irritating the tendon. I'm not saying these things will happen in all cases, just that they can happen, and that pain while stretching is a warning sign that they may be happening.

These things are true even when the exercises are done correctly. But it is difficult to do them correctly, unless one is very clued up about body alignment. If the feet, especially the front foot, aren't pointed exactly forward, and if the ankle, knee and hip aren't kept aligned with one another, the exercises can also strain the knees and hips. And if the pelvis isn't held upright and central, and if the lower back is allowed to arch, pressure is put on the intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine.

So you are wise to suspect that it might be best to stop these stretches. I can't comment on the Pro Stretch, as I don't know it, but I do agree with Judy that non-weight-bearing exercise is probably better for you right now.

All the best, Julie

Re: Stretching for PF

JudyS on 5/29/01 at 22:48 (049292)

Steve - I'm not a doctor and you will hear from one but meanwhile I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth based on a little bit of experience with the calf stretch. Several folks here have experienced the same Achilles soreness you describe after doing the calf-targeting stretches so you're not aloone there! The weight-bearing part of it is critical so you may want to do stretching that is non weight-bearing for awhile. Trust me, you want to avoid adding Achilles Tendonitis to anything else you may be dealing with.

Re: Stretching for PF

Julie on 5/30/01 at 02:39 (049310)

Hi Steve

I think I would lay off the wall stretches, and, as Judy advises, stick to non weight-bearing exercise.

The acid test with all exercise, if you are doing it in an attempt to heal an injury, is that if it hurts, it is probably doing you no good and may do harm.

I think most DPMs recommend the wall stretches, but my feeling, from my own experience and from many reports on these message boards, is that they are not right for everybody. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they may not be right for most people.

I have two reasons for saying this.

They are weight-bearing exercises, and they can put a strain not only on the achilles tendon, but on the 'weak spot' where the PF injury is: at the point where it inserts in the heelbone. These stretches are meant to target and lengthen tight calf muscles, and they do - and they are excellent for folk with no foot problems. But it now seems obvious to me that they are almost certain to pull on both the fascia and the achilles tendon, with the possibility of increasing the injury to the fascia and irritating the tendon. I'm not saying these things will happen in all cases, just that they can happen, and that pain while stretching is a warning sign that they may be happening.

These things are true even when the exercises are done correctly. But it is difficult to do them correctly, unless one is very clued up about body alignment. If the feet, especially the front foot, aren't pointed exactly forward, and if the ankle, knee and hip aren't kept aligned with one another, the exercises can also strain the knees and hips. And if the pelvis isn't held upright and central, and if the lower back is allowed to arch, pressure is put on the intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine.

So you are wise to suspect that it might be best to stop these stretches. I can't comment on the Pro Stretch, as I don't know it, but I do agree with Judy that non-weight-bearing exercise is probably better for you right now.

All the best, Julie