You've been grilled about doing the runner's stretch for at least 30 secs to a minute before taking off on your daily run. Although this seems to be enough for your friends and people in your running club, it never seems to be enough for you.

Almost every time you run you get pain in your calves. And it seems like your calves just keep getting tighter. You've also had heel pain and achilles tendonitis so many times you've stopped counting. Perhaps you've used over-the-counter inserts because you've heard that this might help. Or you might even have gone to a podiatrist who put you in custom orthotics and gave you stretches to do at home. You may even have seen a physical therapist.

In over 30 years of treating runners with plantar fasciitis or heel pain, I've found that the kinds of stretching people like you are asked to do is simply not enough because they can't make a dent in stretching your very tight calf muscles. At least not to the extent they need to be when you'll be putting the kind of force you put on your feet when running. And running itself only adds to the problem.

So what can be done?

While you might think that holding the runner's stretch longer would be the best option, it may not practical. I recommend holding the stretch 30 seconds, 10-20 times.

Many runners are taking up yoga to stretch out their tight calf muscles and to give them an overall body workout. Several poses can help stretch your calf including downward facing dog and standing forward bend. However, Yoga Journal only recommends stretching your calf muscles 5-6 days a week for a minute or two. Again, this is not sufficient for really tight calf muscles.

After years of trying many ways to make a difference in my patient's calf length, I finally found the best solution that works for most people. 

I ask my patients to use a splint during the day for 20-30 minutes on each side while watching TV, reading, or any other activity where they can remain still for that long. I've found that it really does take that long to make the biggest difference in stretching out the calf muscle and Achilles.

So if you're continuing to have heel pain over and over again and this information resonates with you, make an appointment with Dr. Berg at 206-368-7000 or request an appointment online.

More information for runners:

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Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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