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Stretching - How do you know?

Posted by DavidW on 6/08/05 at 09:33 (176320)

How do you know if you are stretching enough to actually help PF without causing further damage? Can you actually stretch hard enough to cause further damage? I have tried aggressive stretching as well as more passive, and aggressive seems to work better. Then a relapse of pain occurs, and I suspect the actual activity (stretching) that is supposed to be helping. I am currently only doing Julies yoga stretches, but I don't know if it is 'deep' enough to help? I like stretching hard, but not to the point of any pain.

I'm confused - anyone have any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Ron on 6/08/05 at 11:32 (176326)

Stretching hard is no good. You are most likely using some form of bullet stretching, which simply is only used by the experts. You can overstretch or stretch too hard.

If you have the money and time, please seek out a professional, or read a great deal on the science of stretching. One week with a professional or a month on the books can save you years of stretching. PT's mainly deal with strength excercises, and the one I had gave me bad advice. I am talking about someone who knows the ins and outs of stretching.

The greatest mistake people make in stretching is impatience. Another mistake is waiting too long for results. After a month or two if you aren't getting results then it's best to find out why.

Good luck!

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Carole C in NOLA on 6/08/05 at 19:37 (176365)

It didn't take much stretching at all, to help me recover from PF. Very, very gentle stretching repeated several times a day did the trick.

First, I sat on a flat surface with legs out in front of me straight and about 18' apart.

Then, I pointed the toes of one foot towards my nose. Hold for a few seconds (work up to 30 seconds as comfortable). Relax. Do the same with the other foot.

As you can see, this is not much stretching! It made a huge difference. I did it upon arising, before going to bed, and several other times during the day.

The worst stretching mistake you can make is to overdo it and re-injure your PF. Stretching should never hurt at all, in my opinion. If it hurts, back off and do it more gently.

Hope this helps.

Carole C (recovered from severe PF and not hurting now)

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Ron on 6/08/05 at 21:30 (176367)

Stretching before rising out of bed might be the greatest advice anyone could give. If you're too tight that first step might be the most damaging step of the day, and this in turn might encourage more damage done throughout the day.

This cycle has to be stopped in order for the plantar fascia to heel itself.

Re: Stretching - Julie, where are you?

Linda V on 6/09/05 at 04:59 (176373)

Hasn't it been awhile since we've heard from Julie? She always gives great info on stretches...hope all is ok with her.

Re: Stretching - Julie, where are you?

Kathy G on 6/09/05 at 16:27 (176408)

Yes, I've been concerned. I'm hoping she's back in Crete and enjoying some nice weather. I heard on the radio today that some parts of England are getting snow! I didn't hear the whole story so I don't know if it was the London area or not.

As for stretching, if you click on Foot Yoga, you'll find some good stretches supplied by Julie, that I do every day and then off and on during the day, I unconsciously do them. I think you have to be very careful of the stretches that some of the 'experts' recommend, like the wall stretch and the stair-hanging stretch. I believe they can do more harm than good and one wouldn't even realize it until the damage was done.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

JudyS on 6/09/05 at 22:07 (176428)

I agree Ron, that morning warm up is very effective. But it's important to do it to loosen the tendons/muscles as opposed to actually stretching them. I'm remembering that, over the years, some here have found that, as Carole points out, stretching is easy to overdo thus only exacerbating the PF problem. That's even more critical in the mornings when the muscles are particularly stiff. The word 'loosen' might be well-substituted for the word 'stretch'.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

DavidW on 6/10/05 at 07:07 (176433)

Thank you all for your comments and feedback!

I have decided to basically only do Julies yoga stretches because it does not seem to aggravate my feet. As per Ron, I do them every morning before getting out of bed, which is pretty easy to do, and in the evening. I also stopped icing - I am afraid I am restricting healing?

Will wait to see if I can slowly get better.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Ron on 6/10/05 at 08:17 (176441)

You might want to try heat instead of ice. Ice does restrict blood flow. Try heat before your work out or in the morning.

One person at least has tried infrared heating to cure her PF**. You don't have to go this expensive, regular hot water probably will do, but over the course of a long time expensive will save you time and trouble.

**This could have been a sales pitch, so I won't advertise the unit she used.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Kathy G on 6/10/05 at 08:28 (176443)

I believe Dr. Z advocates heat vs. icing. As far as I can see, the consensus on the Boards has been to use whatever seems to work. I found more comfort in heat than I did in icing.

Re: Stretching - How do you know?

Joe A on 6/21/05 at 14:35 (177173)

I had this same dillema. Everywhere you read strech-strech-strech... So, you think the more the better. Well, I think it can be harmful if not done right.

First examine the flexibility between your injured for and non-injured foot. Strech both and use your good one as a guide.

After a big flare up... Don't do any load based streching. Just use your hands. Apply pressure gently and make sure your not feeling pain. When it gets stronger you can apply more and more pressure. In my opinion, aggressive streching can be just as dangerous as pf causing activity.

I have found that light passive streching (for example sitting with your foot with slight dorsiflexion) is more effective than 30 second streches and does it with less chance of causing injury. I think this is one reason why night splints are effective.

- Joe (just my 2 cents!)