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stretching without re-injuring

Posted by Ellen J. on 12/28/01 at 18:49 (068020)

Hi,
I've had P.F. for over 2 years and trying to stretch each day. However, when I gently stretch the calf muscles (by placing my toes against a wall) I feel a popping or slight ripping sensation through the arch of my foot. I always stretch gently, and never force it. The pain sometimes starts suddenly, while I am completely motionless during a stretch. Also, I'm more likely to have this pain the longer I hold a stretch. If I allow my toes to bend backward the pain is much more likely to happen. Therefore I hold my toes rigidly straight while stretching and that helps, but not always. The sensation feels like little threads breaking, one after the other in the arch. The foot ends up being a little more sore for a day or so after. How do I stretch without reinjuring?
Thanks for any advice.
Ellen

Re: stretching without re-injuring

Julie on 12/29/01 at 00:34 (068044)

Ellen, I'm not a doctor, but I am a yoga teacher and many years of practice and teaching experience have taught me that the first commandment of exercise of any kind is 'Listen to the messages that your body gives you, and if something hurts, stop'.

If you have pain when doing your stretch, stop doing it. Pain is always a signal from the body that it doesn't like what you're doing to it and that you should stop doing whatever is causing the pain. This is doubly true when you're dealing with injured tissues.

The reason the pain is more intense when you bend your toes back is that the so-called 'windlass mechanism' is stressing the plantar fascia. The 'popping' noise and the sensation of little threads breaking, and the fact that the foot is sore afterwards, are sure signs that you're re-injuring the fascia every time. And this could be one of the reasons that you've had PF for two years - the stretching you're doing is more harmful than helpful.

This is not unusual with weight-bearing stretching, which may be appropriate for some people with PF, but not all. My advice would be to steer clear of all weight-bearing stretching, and go very gently with non-weight-bearing exercise. You might find a post I made the the day before yesterday called 'Yoga exercises for the feet'. It's on a thread some way down on the Treatments board that begins with Christine's 'I've tried everything - Help!'.

Another suggestion is to look into the Personal Foot Trainer at http://www/foottrainer.com . It's a device that you use, sitting down, to do isometric exercises that strengthen the musculature of the foot.

I hope this is helpful.

Re: Ellen

Julie on 12/29/01 at 01:36 (068052)

Ellen, the post I mentioned (Yoga exercises for the feet) is on this board, not the Treatments board. If you go down to the bottom of the page and click on 'Next Set of Messages', you'll be taken to the previous page and will find the thread about half way down it.

Re: Ellen

Sandra T. on 12/29/01 at 10:20 (068068)

I'm looking for the yoga exercises for the feet given by Julie, but haven't located it Can you help?

Re: Ellen

Julie on 12/29/01 at 11:40 (068072)

Sandra, they're about halfway down the second page on the Ask the Foot Doctors board. Click on 'Next Set of Messages' at the bottom of the page and you'll find them under the 'I've tried everything! thread.

Re: stretching without re-injuring

Julie on 12/29/01 at 00:34 (068044)

Ellen, I'm not a doctor, but I am a yoga teacher and many years of practice and teaching experience have taught me that the first commandment of exercise of any kind is 'Listen to the messages that your body gives you, and if something hurts, stop'.

If you have pain when doing your stretch, stop doing it. Pain is always a signal from the body that it doesn't like what you're doing to it and that you should stop doing whatever is causing the pain. This is doubly true when you're dealing with injured tissues.

The reason the pain is more intense when you bend your toes back is that the so-called 'windlass mechanism' is stressing the plantar fascia. The 'popping' noise and the sensation of little threads breaking, and the fact that the foot is sore afterwards, are sure signs that you're re-injuring the fascia every time. And this could be one of the reasons that you've had PF for two years - the stretching you're doing is more harmful than helpful.

This is not unusual with weight-bearing stretching, which may be appropriate for some people with PF, but not all. My advice would be to steer clear of all weight-bearing stretching, and go very gently with non-weight-bearing exercise. You might find a post I made the the day before yesterday called 'Yoga exercises for the feet'. It's on a thread some way down on the Treatments board that begins with Christine's 'I've tried everything - Help!'.

Another suggestion is to look into the Personal Foot Trainer at http://www/foottrainer.com . It's a device that you use, sitting down, to do isometric exercises that strengthen the musculature of the foot.

I hope this is helpful.

Re: Ellen

Julie on 12/29/01 at 01:36 (068052)

Ellen, the post I mentioned (Yoga exercises for the feet) is on this board, not the Treatments board. If you go down to the bottom of the page and click on 'Next Set of Messages', you'll be taken to the previous page and will find the thread about half way down it.

Re: Ellen

Sandra T. on 12/29/01 at 10:20 (068068)

I'm looking for the yoga exercises for the feet given by Julie, but haven't located it Can you help?

Re: Ellen

Julie on 12/29/01 at 11:40 (068072)

Sandra, they're about halfway down the second page on the Ask the Foot Doctors board. Click on 'Next Set of Messages' at the bottom of the page and you'll find them under the 'I've tried everything! thread.