Some questions and answers just beg to reach out!
“Hello, I’ve been struggling with [Plantar Fasciitis] in both feet for at least 6 years, have done foot and calf massages, cortisone, tennis balls, laser, tens unit and have a Chiro running a vibrating ball over the bottom of my feet right now. I’m so tired of not being able to walk long walks.
So I’ve also found a website King brand BFST that swears they have a cold compress item to take the swelling down and then they have a hot wrap to apply heat to the PF. They have all good reviews and relief from people that have tried this.
They don’t recommend stretching. In fact, they have posted 10 PF “myths”. I’m so confused. What do you think of the cold/hot method?….Thank you for your advice…”
And here is my response….
Hi Pearl (name changed to protect the innocent),
You are a poster child for the plantar fasciitis herd mentality. If you have not read on my site at all, please do.
The total message for this the problem is that it is not your foot, it is your calf.
The reason you have had plantar fasciitis for 6 years is that you have never treated it. Really!
You are confused because of the strong message all these mostly clueless medicals and non-medicals are feeding us. Just think for a second about cause and effect. The cause is often not obvious or what you think.
In your case, as in the great majority of those out there suffering, looking past the obvious heel pain location is basically impossible. And I get that, but that is what guys like me are here for: to give the right direction.
Just look at the star Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Even the pros have it wrong. This guy has been plagued with foot issues for a long time, and I can guarantee you they are related to one thing: equinus or calves too tight. And they have not focused on addressing the calf one bit. Now they are talking about a very unnecessary potential surgery in my opinion of course.
It is getting harder for me to believe how so many can be so vehemently far off track. The scientific evidence of the calf being the source of the problem and that calf stretching totally works almost always is there for all to see.
Here is my suggestion.
Do something different, something that seems so counter-intuitive and stretch your calves. Look away from the obvious, your heel, and treat the problem, your calf.
There is a 95% chance you will be done, but be patient. “Undoing” tight calves will take time because they took years to get that way.
Break from the herd, Pearl!
I get comments all the time how calf stretching has changed your world…but these comments are hidden in the blog comments section, where few will benefit from seeing.
Get out there on social media and spread the word about stretching and where you heard it!
Stay healthy my friends,
Could not agree more. If more of my patients did their stretches as advised I would see far less chronic plantar fasciitis. Obviously you have those patients who have been wrongly diagnosed with plantar fasciitis but that’s another matter. The rathleff paper on loading as opposed to stretching is interesting reading, but more evidence needed.
There are more out there like me. Podiatrists have the biomechanics down far in advance of orthopaedic surgeons. It goes from Root and Weed, to Hill and today, Deheer. My soliloquy below is not for you because you get it, it is for all readers.
Rathleff’s work was biased from the start. First, plantar fascial specific stretching may help with the plantar fasciitis, but it does not address the root cause, equinus. I think you would agree with that. Furthermore, I would once like the eccentric exerciser researchers to do their studies without dropping the ankle down to a stretch position. And then maybe make the comparator static stretching. Now there is a novel thought. Do they not know that the likely source of the clinical improvement is actually the calf stretching component that they are unwittingly doing and less the resistance component? Of note, B. DiGiovanni indirectly refuted his own work in 2011 when he recognized the role of equinus in plantar fasciitis. I genuinely believe plantar fascial stretching is an adjunct and can help, but stretching the gastrocnemius is where the money is. Of course, the world has embraced plantar fascial stretching and ignored calf stretching for a multitude of incorrectness. As a final question, ask yourself, how many patients who present with non-traumatic acquired foot and ankle pathologies such as idiopathic midfoot arthritis, second MTP synovitis, posterior tibialis tendon dysfunction, or insertional Achilles tendinosis, to name a few, previously had a history of plantar fasciitis? My internal unpublished numbers are up to 65%, and I am
“published” stating that plantar fasciitis is the gateway diagnosis to all these other likely preventable issues.
Stay healthy my friends,
Where is the 3×3 calf stretching protocol?
You can find my protocol on the blog post, Calf Stretching: It’s the AO Way or the Highway (There Are No Back Roads). Of course you and everyone can use any method or provolone you wish. My protocol is what works for my patients. I quote from the blog post:
Through years of tinkering and observation, I have determined that 9 minutes a day is the right number. It’s best to do it 3 minutes, 3 times per day. You can cluster your stretching like sets. In other words, do a 3 minute stretch, go away for a few minutes (brush your teeth, etc.), then do your next 3 minute stretch, go away for a bit, and then complete your final, 3 minutes, and you are done for the day. It’s easy, it’s done and you are on to the next thing. Less does not seem to work for people, and more is a waste.
In general, I have found that static stretching “fails” due to not enough of it.
Stay healthy, my friends,
Is there any specific stretching exercises to cure the chronic PF ? Or do you have the link?
Thank you so much!
You did not just ask that!?
For the stretches please see my blog, Calf Stretching: It’s the AO Way or the Highway(There Are No Roads Back).
Your question is interesting and gives me an opening to make a point. In fact, there are no “specific” stretches that work for plantar fasciitis and that includes plantar specific stretching exercises. Why? Because the plantar fascia is not the problem and I have been abundantly and openly vocal on this subject.
Here is the interesting thing. Where is THE problem? What should we actually treat? If the root cause (equinus) is not the obvious problem (plantar fasciitis), why would the lion share of any treatment be aimed at the symptomatic problem? Of course, palliative treatment of the painful area, plantar fasciitis, in this case, is all well and good, however, it is really not definitive treatment. It is only feel-good stuff. This line of treatment is tantamount to painting directly over rusted metal. Maybe it looks good for a while, but in the end, the underlying problem, if not specifically addressed before painting, comes back to rear its ugly head.
Here is the problem, in most cases like this almost all treatment is aimed at the foot, and none aimed at the tight calf, the actual problem my friend.
So, the answer is to stretch your calves my way.
Stay healthy my friends,
Dear Angry Orthopod,
Just wanted to send a quick note of thanks for your blog. Truly a blessing. I am a 56 yo male, a runner since the age of 16. Last August I presented with PF, my first experience with this injury. My guess is teleworking at home for six months due to Covid, and spending much of that time barefoot, had an impact on my calves. Ordinarily I work in an office, wear heeled shoes, and walk to many meetings during the day.
In an effort to find the best way to quickly recover, I did all sorts of research and found a great deal of information (apparently everything but your fine blog). I purchased a night splint, started the PF rehab program at James Dunne’s Kinetic Revolution and saw a podiatrist, who immediately diagnosed my tight calves but didn’t offer any specific stretching routine to improve my condition.
After a few weeks of the Kinetic Revolution rehab the PF began to subside. The rehab included quite a bit of calf stretching but did not provide instruction as detailed as yours. Eventually the PF would disappear for a day or parts of a day but would inevitably return. No matter what combination of exercise, stretching, strengthening or icing I tried, I could not get the PF to disappear.
I began your 3 x 3 stretching program about 10 days ago. Given that I was already doing quite a bit of stretching, including calves, I dove right into 3 x 3s rather than starting in smaller increments. After a few days the PF improved dramatically; after 1 week it was almost completely gone.
I completely attribute this improvement in my condition to your recommended stretching technique. Amazing to think that fine-tuning my stretching regimen this very little has made all the difference.
I’ll be contacting my podiatrist, PT and anyone else in the business of treating PF and sharing your blog.
Finally, sorry to post this as a comment to a previous post. I couldn’t find a direct way to reach you.
Thanks for your incredible willingness to assemble this resource and share online.
Hurray for you sir! Posting this as a comment is exactly where I want it. Of course you could put on FB as well if you are on there.
This is the sort of story that really makes me angry and sad at the same time. For every one of you who has seen the light there are thousands (likely an underestimate) who continue to suffer, spend hard earned money and never treat the root cause. Pity!
You hit on one of the main reasons calf stretching fails: unenthusiastic presentation. The great majority of my colleagues fall into one of these three categories:
– Non-believer. They do not believe in the power of calf stretching despite the abundance of evidence. They don’t even know equinus is a problem. There is also the factor of making a living. Surgeries make money and calf stretching makes…well, way less. This BTW applies to all three categories.
– You already stretched and failed. A surgeon always inquires as to what previous treatments have been tried. If they would even ask if you have stretched or you just offer that you have stretched, that is where it ends. You are there with your “resistant” issue, you did some sort of stretching, and IT FAILED. It is obvious, right?
– Unenthused presentation. They know equinus is in some way related to your foot problem and they ask you to stretch or sent you to PT. However, as in your case, the presentation is anemic, unenthusiastic and of course you are going fail. It is much like a asking an obese patient to diet for a few weeks with little definitive guidance. The patient returns and of course having FAILED they get medication or bariatric surgery. In the case of equinus that has failed, one gets a calf lengthening procedure.
Note that one category that I have omitted is the surgeon who knows and understands the roll of equinus in foot pathology, and presents a convincing rationale for stretching with a confident narrative that it WILL WORK. These surgeons or physicians are about as rare snow rolls formed by wind. I am that doc and I have seek snow roles…twice. Both the snow rolls and the results of calf stretching are amazing sights to see.
Thanks for sharing the word. You will be paying it forward indeed.
Stay healthy my friends,
I can hardly believe in all of the vast internet, my wife (desperate to help me) stumbled across your very informative blog. If I may, let me tell you my whole sordid story:
In 2009, I was working as a photographer. I was hired to shoot for a pharmaceutical company which involved a whirlwind trip across the US, carrying a lot of heavy equipment through airports. When I got home, I came down with a bad case of Plantar Fasciitis in both feet. Never officially diagnosed, but I am pretty certain. I got some MBT shoes and did some arch rolling and it went away in a few weeks.
Being crazy, a short time later I decided to open a restaurant. The construction process involved a lot of heavy lifting. Over the course of the 14 months it took to build the restaurant, I had several bouts of lower back strains, but the PF never returned (don’t worry, it comes back eventually!). When the restaurant was completed it was time to open up. That meant I was at the restaurant, on my feet, 7 days a week, 20 hours a day. This went on for months, until one day I said to my wife, “I think this restaurant is going to kill me!”
Literally the next day, I started getting sciatic pain in my butt on the right side. Soon it was traveling down my leg. It continued to get worse, including foot numbness and tingling. Nothing I did seemed to help. Flash forward to January of 2014 when, in the middle of the night, I awoke with my entire right leg, from my butt to my toes, in agony. It was like I was being electrocuted.
Ambulance to the hospital: all kinds of drugs and sent home. When the drugs wore off, the bulk of the pain was gone, but the outside of my right foot was numb (still is), and it felt like I had rock rocks in the arches of my shoe. That symptom and the sciatica kept up for a few months until, not knowing what else to do, I had a L5/S1 microdiscectomy (April 2014). Waking up from that surgery, the sciatica pain was gone, and over time “hot rocks” feeling in my arches has “subsided” to a very bad case of PF. At first my left foot was almost perfect, but over the years it has also developed PF.
Currently, the PF is pretty bad. The pain and burning is mostly in the arches and where the arch meets the heel. I also get a burning sensation in my ankles/lower calves.
I started doing your calf stretches just yesterday. I must be doing them right because I could feel the stretch in the right place. But today my feet are really burning and I hope I am not doing damage. I know you said to start slow, but not sure what that means (I did two sets of 3 minute stretches instead of three).
My questions are: does it sound like I have a bad case of PF, or could it be something different/worse? Is the burning I am noticing as a result of the stretching to be expected?
I searched for your contact information but I couldn’t find it anywhere on the site. If you are a reasonable distance from me, I would like to make an appointment.
I would really appreciate any feedback you might be able to give me. Thank you very much.
PS. The restaurant is a big success.
Dumb me, I thought I answered this and I just found i unanswered. I hope your plantar fasciitis is long gone. It does sound like that is what you have/had. I must say in 30 years and tens of thousands of patients stretching there have been few if any issues. There is no doubt the pain can worsen (even burning) or even start in a new place, but both are temporary and confirmation you are attacking the root cause. The restaurant sounds awesome. Finally, I am honored that you would want to come see me asa patient, but I am retired just recently and I hope to spend more time on the AO and adding to my blogs.
Stay healthy my friends,
Dear Angry Orthopod,
Couldn’t find the way to comment so I’m doing so in a reply…YES YES YES! I am a dance teacher with fibromyalgia so I have been obsessed with natural pain relief as well as the best ways to help my students achieve max strength and flexibility. I have found that MOST if not all chronic pain issues such as PF, lower back, and knee pain are almost always due to tight muscles somewhere in the body. My adult students are always amazed when my stretching techniques fix a plethora of pain they have been to multiple doctors about and have even prevented several from having surgery. We need to care for our bodies if we are going to be sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer. Our bodies were designed to move bend and stretch NOT sit in chairs hunched over a screen for hours and hours.
Thank you for the info on this blog. It is so surprising to me that many medical professionals seem to be so clueless about how the body works. The info is out there and yet it seems to be ignored. It is so refreshing to read the words or reason and wisdom!
Thanks for commenting! I am not even angry about it.
You are all over it and I agree with you 100%. In fact, I can’t really add to your comment. I would encourage the AO Nation to embrace this information.
As to why medical professionals ignore this concept, well, they are in the business of sick care and revenue, not health care. Western medicine is still needed in my opinion, but about 80% of it would disappear (again, my opinion) if we just ate right and stayed active. And of course, dance!
Stay healthy, my friends,
I recently gave birth 6 weeks ago and the heel pain came on suddenly starting in the right foot with a tight plantar fascia and gradually moved to heel pain in both feet in a matter of days. Yes walking barefoot with the new baby around the house. After seeing a podiatrist, he has recommended better arch support and wearing shoes in the house 24/7. I am very interested in your calf stretching method and have started a few days ago right after reading your blog.
Is the heel pain supposed to get worse before it gets better? I am following the stretching and owe it to myself (and feet) to stay consistent however, the heel pain has actually become more intense since the stretching. Is this a normal symptom during the early stages? Thank you for your time!
Congrats on that baby. Something tells me I was colicky and angry right out the chute. Sorry for the delayed response. Although not noted in the literature, postpartum plantar fasciitisis very common, and in my opinion preventable. I have reached out to mom’s groups and OB/GYNs with little traction. Pity, and here you are.
If you are indeed doing the calf stretching you are statistically much better or resolved by now. Orthotics and wearing shoes might give a bit of symptomatic relief, but they do not address the root cause, equinus. Indeed, heel pain can get a bit worse before it gets better. But it does get better. I did a study I did in the late 80’s looking at just stretching for plantar fasciitis showed a 98% rate of symptom resolution. The quickest and most effective resolution was in a 40% subset of patients who had an increase in pain only to resolve 2-3 weeks later. The reason is that you are not just stretching your calf, you are stretching your plantar fascia. However, it does not mechanically worsen the situation and as the calf starts to “release” the strain on the PF also releases and things improve.
Stay healthy my friends,
Hi, I will desperately wait for your reply….I have 2nd toe MTP Synovitis in both feet. I am beginning to do calf stretches but in the meantime my toes are becoming hammertoes, I have bunions forming and nerve pain and numbness in both feet. I pronate when walking and have custom orthotics. I can’t get any relief. I am only 40 and have been dealing with this for over 5 years. No shoe feels good, I can’t walk barefoot. I can only wear Vionic flip flops and that just won’t do. I can barely hobble around and I’m so disgusted with the pain. It keeps me up at night. Can you suggest a shoe or insert, will calf stretches really help this? I feel like my feet are going downhill and I don’t know how to stop the damage. Please help! 🙁
Hi there Lisa,
You, my girl, are a poster child for how equinus wreaks havoc on the human foot. In short, calf stretching really does work, provided you do it. I have addressed your feet many times over on this blog. If you want to stop the “damage” calf stretching is the best friend you have, in fact the only friend. How are you doing 2 months after this comment? Are you stretching? Be patient and hang in there!
Stay healthy my friends,
Hi there Lisa,
You, my girl, are a poster child for how equinus wreaks havoc on the human foot. In short, calf stretching Really does work, provided you do it. I have addressed your feet many times over on this blog. If you want to stop the “damage” calf stretching is the best friend you have, in fact, the only friend. How are you doing 2 months after this comment? Are you stretching? Be patient and hang in there!
Stay healthy my friends,
I’m in a desperate situation with my MN. I’m wondering if you might weigh in, as I’ve found your prior posts and comments about it really informative.
First, I am 99% certain that I do, in fact, have MN. I have a Mulder’s click (I know you have opinions about this!), and shoes are exponentially more painful than going barefoot or wearing Birkenstocks (which is still annoying and hurts, but it’s manageable). The pain is only when I am walking; never when I’m at rest. And the Mulder’s click never reproduced the level of pain I feel when I walk.
So. I started with a course of anti-inflammatory meds, to no avail. I graduated to cortisone shots, two of them, which were diagnostic; they confirmed the location between my third and fourth toes of my right foot. Those provided very temporary relief at best, so then I was on to 7 weekly alcohol sclerosing injections. Meanwhile, I changed all of my footwear to wide toe box, supportive shoes with rigid soles (the rigidity seems to help in my case). I’ve tried two sets of insoles, as well as met pads. The sclerosing injections helped initially, I’d say for about 5-6 months. While the pain didn’t completely subside and I could still feel the neuroma, it was far less angry than it had been.
Then fairly suddenly, a few weeks ago, the pain came raging back, but in a different way. I can’t confidently pinpoint a specific thing that might’ve done it. Where before my pain was largely in the ball of my foot, now the pain radiates up the undersides of my toes, so that I feel like the slightest touch to the tip of my fourth toe while walking is agony. It’s with this new pain that I can also feel the neuroma very clearly. It seems as though it grew overnight. Occasionally I feel I’m sort of rolling over it when I walk, but mostly it’s just that I can feel the sensation of it “crunching” between by metatarsals.
Weirdly, shoes that used to be comfortable are now the worst for me (particularly my hiking shoes, and boy do I miss hiking something fierce these days). I don’t really understand this change, but all I can think is that I’m one of the lucky few with the most resistant kind of neuroma. I’m set to try acupuncture for the first time next week, and I have an appointment with a neurologist the week following. Trying to exhaust every last option before resorting to surgery. But, for the first time, I’m thinking seriously about surgery.
A few questions: Why is it that podiatrists/orthopedists tend to treat this condition, and not neurologists, if it’s a nerve issue? Do you have an opinion about resection vs. decompression? Plantar versus dorsal approach? I gather knowing the size of the thing could impact whether just decompression would work — in that case would imaging be helpful?
I’m trying to be the best advocate for myself that I can, but I also wonder in alternating moments whether I am overthinking or oversimplifying things. I so appreciate you taking the time to read this. Fingers crossed there might be a light at the end of this pain tunnel.
Fantastic description! In my opinion, since you did not mention calf stretching, you have not tried everything. And I have to say calf stretching my way. I don’t feel you are overthinking at all and your thinking is sound. Unfortunately, medical opinions can be widely varied which is frustrating and confusing.
As for the new pain, I do have a theory. The sclerosis agent injections may have caused constrictive scar tissue around or in the nerve which just makes it that much more susceptible to applied forces causing the pain and radiation. Just a theory though.
Now for your questons.
Why is it that podiatrists/orthopedists tend to treat this condition, and not neurologists if it’s a nerve issue?
-A Morton’s neuroma, while a nerve issue, is not in the wheelhouse of a neurologist. It is the domain of surgeons who know the anatomy, podiatrists and orthopaedic surgeons.
Do you have an opinion about resection vs. decompression?
-First, the surgery is about as easy to recover from as it gets. I went through a phase of decompression in the middle of my career and they did not work as well as reported, but revision of my own cases and others was no different than virgin surgery, so no bridges burned. I reverted back to resection and never looked back. With the possibility of the scaring and new symptoms, if you do come to surgery, I would go resection I state all this after I wrote the seminal article 30 years ago on why Morton’s neuroma surgery fails and recurs.
Plantar versus dorsal approach?
I gather knowing the size of the thing could impact whether just decompression would work — in that case, would imaging be helpful?
-The size of the Morton’s neuroma would have no impact on the choice of surgical resection. Likely someone has written on this, but I would seriously doubt any evidence along these lines.
Finally, please stretch. It could be too late in your case, but what do you have to lose.
Stay healthy my friends,
Thank you SO much for this thoughtful reply!
So, if resection is the way to go should it come to surgery, do you have a preference between plantar or dorsal approach? In my reading it sounds like dorsal is easier to heal from, but access to the neuroma is a little harder than plantar and might up the chances of a painful stump. Mine is most definitely toward the bottom of the metatarsal space.
I did go see a neurologist who also does acupuncture, and she similarly thought the sclerosing agent might have damaged fascia around the neuroma, setting off kind of a chain reaction. She seemed to think perhaps fascial release (either during physical therapy, or using the MELT method — though I’m reluctant to throw $50 at a set of rubber balls?!) would be helpful. I’d seen elsewhere on a runner’s forum that someone swore by Active Release and the Graston method to relieve neuroma pain, so maybe we’re on to something here?! Hopefully since the injections concluded fairly recently, there might still be a chance of breaking up that scar tissue if I go this route.
I think the risk of a stump neuroma just kind of *feels* higher to me given how stubborn this thing has been so far. Not so scientific. But I will definitely give stretching a go and see what happens. (I’ve also, since writing, started using toe separators for about a half hour a day. No idea if that’s doing a thing, but as you say for stretching, what do I have to lose?!)
All great logic on your part. Seriously, $50 rubber balls deep cross friction massage with your thumb, which every PT knows, does as good as anything. What you are saying, in the end, is you are not ready for the risk of surgery yet and I agree with that logic. Last resort.
Here is the thing and it is odd reasoning unless you really think about it. The results of this surgery do not change with increasing symptoms or length of time endured. So, the worse you are going into this surgery (not one where time matters to the result like cancer), the lower the expectations. You literally have more to gain than the person who has had the problem for a short while with minimal pain who insists on surgery. Believe me, they sadly exist and they have little to gain and more to lose.
So, you are on a good course I feel and I good hands.
Stay healthy my friends,
Your story is my story. Do the stretching. It changed my life for the better.
Your response is the one I have heard for so many years and one more people need to hear. It is a shame that so many are out there suffering thinking they are doing the right thing when the right thing is so simple and cheap, free actually. Thank you.
Stay healthy my friends,
Four years ago you changed my life.
I found your blog at 3am one morning in 2014. I was in so much pain I couldn’t sleep. I had been scouring the web for information, a cure for my PF that none of the myriad specialists I had seen were able to give me. I had spent in the order of $4,000 in the previous 12 months looking for an answer. Thousands of dollars on specialists, podiatrists, physios, custom moulded inserts, pre-moulded off-the-shelf gel/foam/whatever inserts, “Zero-G” running machine sessions, ultrasounds, intratissue percutaneous electrolysis… nothing was working. I was depressed, potentially suicidal. I could see only a future of partnering my formal attire with oversize gym shoes. Long walks and certainly running permanently erased from my future. My world came crumbling down.
I was suffering from what I would describe as PF (in the shortest number of words, a feeling of razor blades slicing my heels to the bone) and Achilles Tendinopathy (sore at the insertion point to my heel). I honestly can’t remember if I have been officially diagnosed as having PF, and don’t know if there is an agreed definition for what it is as I’ve heard so many specialists think it was different things.
I created this condition myself. I was perfectly healthy before making the mistake of reading “Born To Run” and taking up barefoot runnning to solve my knee issues which were preventing my from running. I used to run quite a bit and loved it. My knees were causing problems and barefoot running was, while it lasted, like a gift direct from the heavens. I could travel the world, wake up early in the morning and run anywhere at any time. On the street, in the park. No pressure on my knees! Helleluja! All that bounding pressure was however, now obviously transferred to my achilles tendon. I loved barefoot running for the week or two I slowly practised it. I read of the danger. Go slow they say. Ok. I built up from 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes a day in my fancy Vibram 5 fingers.
And then one day I read a comment by a netizen, “you should start your barefoot runing fully barefoot, it will help condition you to prevent injury later”. Roger that! So I switched to fully barefoot running, and it was a magical run. I think 3 minutes. But I noticed after the first day it was using different muscles. My calves were sore and tight, much more than when I was using the Vibrams. In a good way. Just like you feel good pain after exercise. I didn’t think anything of it. I could feel my calves were tight, but I didn’t think to stretch them. The next day I went out barefoot running, and I could feel a “tug tug tug” from my achilles tendon on my heel, with each step. Tug.. tug… tug… tug… After 90 seconds of that I’d done the damage that effectively terminated my existance on this earth as a fully functioning human being. I fell over in pain, and was unable to walk for a month.
After a year of seeing specialists and going through the motions, my assessment is that barefoot running gave me tight calves and increased demands on my achilles at the insertion point. Nobody told me that I should stretch my calves after this happened. In fact, I asked that question specifically to my phyiso: “My calves are tight, should I stretch them?”. My expensive physio who had me on “zero G” running machines told me the exact opposite, “No, stretching can make it worse”. So I actively refrained from stretching my calves while “retraining” to overcome the condition. I firmly believe this just compounded things, and eventually a few months later when I tried running (barefoot style running, in fancy “low heel drop” shoes), it was all over. I have never been able to run again since.
And so we come back to finding you, your advice, and the Angry Orthopod blog one night at 3AM in 2014. I read your articles. They resonated with me. I started your program.
After 2 weeks of 3×3, the tendinopathy disappeared.
After another 4 weeks, the plantar fasciitis had gone.
I was dumbfounded that this free, simple exercise regimine had cured my PF. The advice and widgets of an army of specialists ready to sell me services and widgets had done nothing for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Once I’d seen this was working, I wanted to preach the good word. Get on top of the highest mountains and yell to the no doubt tens of thousands of other sufferers of this horrible disease that there was a workable, free, easy cure to get their life back. But I had my doubts, and before I did this I wanted to see if the results lasted.
> I get comments all the time how calf stretching has changed your world…but these comments are hidden in the blog comments section, where few will benefit from seeing. Get out there on social media and spread the word about stretching and where you heard it!
Now 4 years on, I am ready to do my bit for the mission. I have a lot of experience running online forums. After that first month, I registered the domain name “www.stretchyourcalves.com” with the idea of one day putting a forum on it for people like me to connect with each other and share our stories and “spread the good word” of “The AO-way-or-the-highway”. But then life got in the way, and the idea got put on the pile. The last 4 years I’ve been immersed in work, not exercising heavily, but taking long enjoyable walks every day and living a relatively healthy happy life. I had found a happy stasis, even if it meant I was restricted to walking.
A few weeks ago however I realized I needing more than walking in my life. I was advised to see an exercise physiologist about another totally unrelated chronic physical issue that was preventing me from doing another swathe of exercises I’d like to be doing. They listened to my history of PF and have got me doing some exercises to “get me running again”. I have explained my history to them in detail, they know how many times I’ve been burnt by specialists before, how much money I’ve wasted, but they are confident we should proceed. After all I was referred to them by my doctor, that means something, right?
I’m still in the early days with them, but after several years my dreaded PF symptoms are coming back. At first, a feeling of sharp cold stones pressed in my heel and the balls of my feet. And then the razor blades are back. I “feel” this is all related to the calf stretches making my calves tight, simple and no more complicated than that. Over the last few years, there have been times when I’ve travelled and started doing a lot more (power-)walking than normal. This gives my calves a workout, they get tight, symptoms come back. I switch from 1×3 per day to 3×3, 5×3 and the symptoms receed. I feel I’m in touch with the cycle, and it all revolves around calf tightness. I’d have them sliced-loose by a surgeon if I thought it would give a better result but I appreciate your many words on this topic and for now defer to stretching as a better overall option for my happiness.
AO, the man who changed my life… what advice have you for me? Should I abandon yet another specialist who tells me to “stick with the plan”? Or should I just increase my AO stretches to 3×3, 6×3, 100×3 per day?
They presently have me doing:
1. Regular calf raises, but today switching to Michael Rathleff’s raised-toe version: https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2014/09/15/plantar-fasciitis-important-new-research-by-michael-rathleff/
2. Dorsiflexion toe raises
Should pursue this course? Or give up? Is there any way *you* think I could get back to running, and what program would you suggest for me that aligns with your worldview?
Anyway, back to you asking people to spread the good word. I have been in a happy place the last few years, able to walk, but wishing I could run again. Now I feel the horrible pain of PF again, my mind is back to firing up stretchmycalves.com to provide a results driven, independent, commercial-free nexus of information and support for PF suffers “by us for us”. If you’d like to see that forum up and running, let me know and I’ll divert energy towards making it happen.
Where do I start? First, a question from me; a rhetorical question I often ask. Why are you not running? The answer is far and away, “I was told not to” by your myopic doc. The legitimate reason to not run is because you did it once or twice it really does set things off and you are back to square one. I get that, but fear of this happening is not a reason to not run.
Second, let’s cover your three specific questions at the end. Ratheff’s method is just fine and eccentric landing definitely has merit…so do it. I don’t know what the sit-to-stand thing is and I don’t want to know. I have addressed the plantar fasciitis specific stretches and I would not waste your time, but you can do them if you want. Here is the problem! Too many treatments to do creates noncompliance in most all of us, but I don’t think that will be a problem for you. Keep your focus on static calf stretching no matter what.
http://stretchmycalves.com/ huh? I like it and I really appreciate your enthusiasm. You are correct in that I have a lot of great answers that basically no one sees. Unfortunately over the past 5 years my workload has sadly prevented my from posting on the AO. Let me think on how to leverage your kind offer and I will be back.
Stay healthy my friends,
Could you please tell me where to find your calf stretch exercises or post a link to them? Many thanks
Here you go: Calf Stretching: It’s the AO Way or the Highway (There Are No Back Roads)