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Stretches to help ease pain in your feet

June 9, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Women who wear high heels all the time may be surprised to learn that switching to flat shoes may be even more painful. Rebecca Armato wears heels 60 to 70 hours a week. She suffers from Achilles tendonitis after years of her foot being in an upright position caused the tendon above her heel to contract.

So when Armato switches to flats, she feels tension. Podiatrists say it's a key tendon that has been tightened.

"It gives you the ability to go up on your toes, to push off when you're walking and running, so it's really critical in terms of ambulation, said Dr. Joseph Ferrante, a podiatrist at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena.

Dr. Ferrante says if you don't take care of this tendon it can lead to degenerative damage and possibly surgery. He recommends women stretch after they get out of their heels and especially before trying to do any running or jumping, which could lead to further damage.

First try to touch your toes; you can do it standing or sitting on the ground. Dr. Ferrante also suggests putting a towel around your feet and pulling it toward you to get a better stretch.

Then try the stair step stretch. Put the balls of your feet on a platform, hang onto something and then lower your heels.

"Whatever a person does, just don't bounce, you have to hold it for 30 seconds," said Dr. Ferrante.

Sometimes a tight Achilles tendon can lead to other forms of heel pain, so try rolling your feet on a can or a glass or try grabbing at a towel with your toes.

Daily stretching and slowly transitioning to lower heels can help beat the pain.

Besides doing all the stretching, Dr. Ferrante recommends women with flat feet look for athletic shoes with the proper arch support.

Women with high arches need shoes that can absorb shock. He says those women should avoid completely flat shoes and look for something with at least a one inch heel.

Here are some stretches you can do at home to help lessen foot and calf pain. Podiatrist Dr. Krista Archer suggests routine stretching can help heal certain types of foot pain. She advises her patients to hold the stretches for about 15 to 30 seconds, then relax and repeat 10 times.

But before starting any type of new stretches or exercise, talk to your doctor first to make sure it's appropriate for your particular injury.

Towel Stretch

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around the top of the foot. Slowly pull the towel towards to keeping your body straight. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds then relax - repeat 10 times.

Calf/Achilles Stretch

Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at chest height. Move the heel back and with the foot flat on the floor. Move the other leg forward and slowly lean toward the wall until you feel a stretch through the calf. Hold and repeat. Bend back knee for second part of stretch and hold.

Stair Stretch

Stand on a step on the balls for your feet and hold the rail or wall for balance. Slowly lower the heel of the foot to stretch the arch of your foot. Bend the back leg for second part of stretch and hold.

Toe Stretch

Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Pull the toes back on the foot until stretch across the arch is felt. Hold and repeat.

Frozen Can Roll (to help with heel pain, or Plantar Fasciitis)

Roll your bare foot back and forth from the tip of the toes to the heel over a frozen juice can. This is a good exercise after activity because it not only stretches the plantar fascia but also provides cold therapy.


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