Athletes Treating Athletes Logo

03 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Stretching pt 9- the foot

In the introduction post to this series, we reviewed and answered some common questions regarding stretching, including why, when, how, etc. Click here to review it.

In this post we will be talking about stretches specifically for the foot. This includes the the long tendons on the top of the foot that extend your toes (pull them up towards the ceiling), the tendons on the bottom of your foot that flex your toes (curl them under), and the plantar fascia itself.

The Rules:

1) Stretching should NEVER hurt. The goal is to only go until you feel a pull in the muscle. It should not be to go until it hurts in one of those “no pain, no gain” efforts. It should be comfortable and repeatable, allowing you to move a little further with each repetition.2) Perform stretches when the muscles are warmed up. This can be following a workout or following work with the foam roller. Click here to review the self massage post for the foot (this includes pictures and video using a foam roller and tennis ball to review 3 self muscle release techniques).

2) Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3-4 times. You can hold longer than the 20 seconds, but the reps are key. You will always get more out of stretching frequently versus one killer session a week.

3) If hurt- be sure to stretch the opposing muscle groups. For the foot, this means the back of the calf (gastroc and soleus), as well as, the shin/front of the lower leg (anterior tibialis). If it is too painful to stretch out the foot due to injury, focus on these groups instead and work your way up  to stretching the injury itself.

The Stretches:

#1 The top of the foot (toe extensors)

The key with this stretch is to break it up into parts. You want the foot itself to be completely relaxed while you use the upper parts of your leg (knee and hip) to move it. Start by curling your toes under your foot like the picture above. From here, bend the foot back over them until a stretch is felt along the top of the foot. You can increase this stretch by pushing the front of the ankle forward (be sure to keep the toes curled under as you do so). Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

#2 Bottom of the foot (toe flexors)

This stretch moves in the opposite direction as the first stretch but uses the same principles. Keep the foot itself relaxed! Slide the foot back until you are up on your toes and you feel a pull in the bottom of the foot. You can increase this stretch by squatting down into more of a lunge position as you do so. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times.

#3 Plantar fascia stretch

This stretch is a variation of a standing gastroc stretch. The key here is to keep the foot and ankle as relaxed as you can. The only thing that should be on that step, is the ball of your foot (think toes to the bottom of that “knuckle” under your big toe). From here, simply drop your heel down until a stretch is felt in the bottom of your foot. Hold 20-30 seconds and repeat 4 times. (note: if you are having a hard time with this stretch due to a pinch or tightness in the ankle, you may want to try an ankle mobilization first)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • email

Leave a Reply