The following stretches, in combination with custom orthotics, may help alleviate various biomechanical issues that are caused by foot problems. Ask us which stretches are best suited to your particular situation.
This stretch primarily addresses tension and lack of range of motion in the gastrocnemius muscle (outer calf), soleus muscle (inner calf), achilles tendon, posterior tibial tendon and the plantar fascia.
This stretch is best performed in a doorway, although any other flat surface will work. Always perform this stretch while wearing supportive footwear. Stand in the doorway, arms’ length away. Place one forefoot up against the door jam with the heel seated firmly on the floor. Grab the door fame at waist level and pull your hip toward the door frame. Tension should develop anywhere from the back of the knee down through the calf, achilles, heel and into the long arch.
If you can reach the door frame with your hips you need to place your forefoot higher on the door frame, maintaining your heel position on the floor. There should be some discomfort, but no pain, when performing this stretch. To stretch the posterior tibial tendon, rotate the knee inward while the calf is under tension.
The extensor digitorum and peroneus longus muscles are along the outside of the lower leg. These muscles extend the toes and bring the forefoot out and up, and they tend to compensate for poor biomechanics of the feet and lower limbs. To perform this stretch, sit in a chair with your legs square to the floor. Place one ankle on the opposite knee and pull the four lesser digits of the foot toward your body until tension is felt along the outer tibia and the top, or dorsal surface, of the foot. This stretch will help to relieve shin splints on the front of the lower leg.
Morning Towel Stretch
This stretch will increase range of motion in the gastroc-soleus, achilles, and especially the plantar fascia, preventing further injury before first weight-bearing in the mornings. This should be performed before getting out of bed in the mornings (or if you get up in the night) with a towel, belt or rope (no thera bands). Sit with legs extended in front of you, back straight, chin tucked up and in. Reach the towel around the ball of the foot and pull until the calf comes under good tension. Typically, you should go directly to the wall stretch after weight bearing. Under acute conditions this stretch should be used after all periods of non-weight bearing rest, greater than 15 minutes, throughout the day.
The piriformis muscle is located between the hip and
sacrum, or lowest section of the back. It is often overused to decelerate the internal rotation of the knees and hips caused by pronation of the feet. Sit on a flat raised surface, such as a bed or bench. Turn sideways and lift one leg onto the bench so that the lower leg is perpendicular to the upper leg. Bending only at the lower back, lean forward, hands in front of the bent leg, bracing the upper body to control the stretch. Variations include moving the foot towards or away from the groin, and moving the upper body from over the bent knee to over the foot.
I.T. Band Stretch
This stretch will increase the range of motion of the ilio-tibial band, located between the hip and knee on the outside of the upper leg. Lay on your side on the edge of a bed, bench, or raised platform, with one hip directly above the other. Slowly, move the upper leg over the edge of the bench while keeping the hips still, allowing the upper foot and leg to hang. There should be tension along the lateral thigh, or I.T. band.
As noted in the picture, the pressure or tension of the stretch can be increased with the help of a second person.