Need Some Stretching & Strengthing?
Stretching muscles can increase range of motion within a joint, after which proper prescribed strengthening exercises can improve a joints overall performance, strength and stability.
Which Muscles and Joints Benefit from Regular Stretches
Most joints and muscles benefit from stretching, however as podiatrists, the team at Erica Dash Podiatry are primarily concerned with the lower limb.
Our team are qualified professionals and are likely to send you home with stretches for muscles in your leg such as your quadriceps (front thigh), hamstrings (back thigh), anterior compartment (shin), calf muscles (back of your lower leg) and intrinsic foot muscles.
What is the Benefit of Stretching?
Regular stretching of a muscle over time increases the flexibility of the muscle and ultimately improves the range of motion of the associated joint.
When coupled with a thorough strengthening program, stretching enables the muscles to support the joint through its optimum range to increase stability and performance.
What is the Difference between Static and Dynamic Stretching?
Static stretching is where you place a muscle or muscle group under tension and you hold that stretch for a period of 30 – 60 seconds without moving. Static stretching is best performed after activity on a warm muscle as the muscle is more pliable and able to accept a good stretch when warm.
It is generally used for muscle relaxation and lengthening. Static stretching is easy to do, so it is great for beginners and the elderly who are unable to complete the movements that dynamic stretching requires.
Prior to performing static stretching it is a good idea to increase your body’s core temperature, this can be done by taking a gentle walk, to warm up the muscle to get a better stretch.
Benefits of static stretching are increased flexibility and performance, increased range of motion at a joint, decreased muscle imbalance around a joint and also decreased pain.
Upper Calf Muscle Stretch:
The Upper Calf muscle stretch is one of the stretches commonly prescribed for heel pain at Erica Dash Podiatry.
Begin by facing a wall, stand approximately 1 metre away from the wall, with your left leg step towards the wall placing your hands on the wall for support. Make sure your right foot is perpendicular to the wall.
Bend your left knee and while keeping your right leg straight and your right foot flat on the floor gently push your right heel into the floor, you should now feel a gentle stretch in your right upper calf.
If you are unable to feel the stretch slide your right foot a little further back. Hold this stretch for 30 – 45 seconds. Return to the starting position, and repeat three times on each side.
Dynamic Stretching is an active movement where your joints and muscles go through their full range of motion.
They are usually performed prior to exercising or playing sport to warm up your body. Dynamic stretches are moving stretches and not held for any length of time.
Whilst jogging forwards (or jogging on the spot) quickly lift your knee up as high as it will go; repeat on the other side, repeat this process quickly for 30 – 60 seconds.
The Importance of Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening is important in the reduction of injuries, it can prevent muscle imbalance which is very important in decreasing the effects of osteoarthritis, bursitis, sprains and strains.
At Erica Dash Podiatry we are concerned with your feet, lower limb, joints of your lower limb and joints of your feet, and the way your muscles and joints impact your gait.
Your feet form your platform with the ground and each foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons all working together to give you a stable base to walk. For this reason your feet need to be as strong as possible.
The podiatrists at Erica Dash Podiatry will assess your overall muscle strength in your feet and lower limbs and prescribe an individualised stretching, strengthening and stabilising program for you to take home and perform in between your appointments.
Firstly, you will be prescribed stretching to enable your joint to move through its full range of motion; then our podiatrists will prescribe a series of strengthening exercises to be performed to ensure your joint remains flexible and strong, addressing muscle imbalances and finally a stabilising program is put in place to reduce injury and make certain your joint is performing at its best.
Commonly Prescribed Stretching Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis:
Plantar Tissue Stretch
Equipment needed: tennis ball or spikey ball and a chair
How to do this stretch:
- Comfortably sit upright on the chair
- Place the tennis/spikey ball on the floor, at your feet
- Place your left foot on the ball
- Roll the ball for 20 seconds under the area where your toes join your foot, then
- Roll the ball for 20 seconds under the arch of your left foot, next
- Roll the ball for 20 seconds under the heel of your foot, and finally
- Roll the ball under the whole foot (making sure to capture all 3 areas) for one minute
- Repeat on the other side
Commonly Prescribed Strengthening Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis:
Equipment Needed: Towel (hand towel or Floormat size is great) and a chair
How to do this strengthening Exercise:
- Sit comfortably on the chair
- Place the towel flat on the floor at your feet
- Place the toes on the towel with your heel on the floor
- Scrunch the towel towards you with your toes
- Repeat this exercise for two minutes in total.
Commonly Prescribed Stabilising Exercises to Assist in Healing Plantar Fasciitis:
Toe Scrunch Exercise:
Equipment needed: None
- Begin with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart
- Put weight on the outside border of your feet so your big toes are just off the ground.
- Scrunch your toes holding the scrunch for 20 seconds
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat 3 times do this exercise twice daily
Lower Calf Stretch for Severs Disease:
Young athletes aged between 8 and 13 can experience severe and almost crippling heel pain during and after sport. A gentle lower calf stretch can help to alleviate this pain.
Lower Calf Stretch:
Equipment needed: none
- Begin facing a wall with your feet approximately 40 – 50 cm from the wall
- Place your hands on the wall for support
- Place one foot in front of the other
- Bend both knees until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower calf
- Hold for 45 – 60 seconds
- Return to the knees straight starting position
- Repeat at least 3 times on each side
Keeping your knees bent, ensures you engage your lower calf muscle.
Another commonly prescribed strengthening exercise is “The Bridge”. Whilst podiatrists are medical specialists concerned with gait, it is difficult to have a normal gait without a strong core.
The Bridge is a core strengthening exercise. a strong core reduces internal hip position and decreases excessive pronation.
- Place your exercise mat or towel on the floor
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, your feet shoulder width apart and placed flat on the floor.
- Gently pull your pelvis upwards and lift your hips off the floor – so your body forms a straight line between your shoulders and knees
- Hold this position without hip sag for 20 – 30 seconds
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat 10 – 12 times daily
The team at Erica Dash Podiatry are health and wellness professionals who are trained in exercise prescription. Contact us today to achieve optimum performance.