As a Crossfit trainer I have a hate hate relationship with tendon pain: I hate it, it hates me. Nevertheless, I have to relieve symptoms, actually fix the issue, while getting my athletes back into training. Myself included. Ive suffered for from tendon pain for years. Thankfully, I can now fix it!
There are hundreds and thousands of therapists and trainers, that, when confronted with your hurting hamstring or your terrorised tendon will simply dive in and rub that bit! Maybe they will give you a specific stretch and maybe a reassuring “There there, therapist kiss it better”
The reality is that your body is a global system and highly interrelated. Leg issues can be caused by core issues, how you chew your food can screw your knee!
its actually quite a tricky muscle to stretch. Interestingly it inserts into the shoulder and then skips over to the forearm. Speaking with my therapist hat on, I’d say 85 % of shoulder problems have a “poor relationship” with the bicep. Getting some sort of stretch in, is therefore, good.
Stretch No 1
The “just straighten your arm” stretch. Do what it says on the tin. It’s better than nothing
Stretch 2 is more fun. Sit down with your arms behind you and start sliding your bum forward. You’ll either feel the stretch in the elbow, the shoulder or in the belly of the muscle. Over the weeks, focus on getting your hips further forward to increase the stretch. Build to 2-3 minutes
Number 3 is a disgusting stretch, so make sure you have built some stretch capacity by pushing Stretch 2 along for a few weeks. This hanging stretch is stolen from gymnastics and is called the German Hang. Find a low bar, hang off it. Pull your knees through your arms then keep on turning. Lower your legs to the floor and hang in your shoulders. Do start this with a low bar, as you may need to drop straight off even as you get into something resembling the position. Its very intense!
It also helps you understand the meaning of the word “intense”
Whilst I talk about the various therapies and stretches for Plantar Fasciitis here, its worth tuning into the “length of stretch” debate.
If you look at Porter D, Barrill E, Oneacre K, May BD. The effects of duration and frequency of Achilles tendon stretching on dorsiflexion and outcome in painful heel syndrome: a randomized, blinded, control study. Foot Ankle Int 2002;23(7):619-624.
You’ll find two protocols coming neck and neck:
3 minutes of stretching 3 x a day (ie hold the stretch for 3 minutes) , or five sets, 20 seconds each, two times daily.
Either way, the take-home message that a quick reluctant 10-second stretch when you can be bothered, isn’t enough. The study also determined that both sustained and intermittent Achilles tendon stretching exercises increase Achilles tendon flexibility. This increase in flexibility correlated with a decrease in pain!
This is an idea that features heavily in my fix your plantar fasciitis course. It’s only £27 and has the most effective science-backed drills. Never waste money on physical therapy again!!
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It’s impossible to get fit without someone reminding you to “stretch your quads”. The quads, or quadriceps ( quad for four) run up the top of the front of your leg. Three of them go from the knee cap to below your hip. One goes across the knee and then across the hip. Here is a useful graphic from wikipedia
Stretching these muscles is important as they are the ones most likely to become short if you sit too much. We all sit too much.
Here is the standing quad stretch that I think everyone must have seen at some stage
But this is just the start of your quad journey. Get on a bed (or anything comfy) and kneel down
Put your hands behind you and lean back. Some may find this hard. Don’t worry, just keep on getting used to it. Just incase you get stuck, it maybe as well to have someone around to pull you back up again if you cannot get back up again.
Once you build your confidence, get a cushion pile and slowly take a cushion away each time you try
Eventually you’ll simply lie down. you’ll notice my hips are fairly high, so to be a quad stretching master, eventually you need to pull your hips down.
Unfortunately, you probably need to build this up to 3 minutes. If your ankles are very tight you may need a small roll (a towel) under them, as the initial stretch can be quite intense! Enjoy. Slowly build up your time and tolerance. In the early stages,it’s just about getting used to it.
A big welcome to your Plantar Fascia. An unknown part of your foot, that, so it seems, you don’t have to worry about.
It will do whatever the hell it does for years, then one morning, in some unlucky people, it creates almost crippling heel pain.
First thing in the morning, upon getting out of bed, you’ll be in so much pain that even hopping across your bedroom floor is something you’ll dread. Even contemplating allowing your heel to touch the floor makes many want to throw up in their own mouths.
It’s not all bad. Just give it 5 or 10 minutes of hobbling around and you can begin to limp with a bit of dignity. Welcome to the party you now have plantar fasciitis. It often self cures, in anything from 6 weeks to TWO YEARS.
There are two positive sides to the condition:
1) You’ll meet lots of people online searching for a cure. So it’s like an agony based Tinder.
2) you’ll meet lots of dodgy therapists trying to part you from your money for quack cures. If you spot them, it’s fun to watch. If you cannot see a quack coming, its a bit expensive.
So some back ground, according to the BMJ plantar Fasciitis copy has the reputation of being “a trivial condition”. Clinically “benign and self limiting”. So, if you are limping around your bedroom, screaming with pain, wondering how you can get to the loo, don’t worry, its “benign and self limiting”.
Pull yourself together. Its not cancer
So who gets it?
Middle aged and older people. In some research I undertook, the age spread was thus
Athletes and active people
In my research, these were the activities being undertaken prior to Plantar fasciitis developing
Those with a reduced range of ankle dorsiflexion. Its all about Equinus
“sit with one leg crossed over the other, and stretch the arch of the foot by taking one hand and pulling the toes back toward the shin for a count of 10. The exercise must be repeated 10 times, and performed at least three times a day, including before taking the first step in the morning and before standing after a prolonged period of sitting”. Thanks to Benedict DiGiovanni and Nawoczenski,
Most foot issues (not only plantar fasciitis, but the nasty achilles tendonitis) benefit from a better range of ankle flexion and pliable calf muscles. This daily stretch is also a must!
However, Crawford F, Thomson C. Interventions for treating plantar heel pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2003; (3) found limited evidence to support the use of night splints to treat plantar fasciitis sufferers who had experienced pain for greater than 6 months. They found that patients treated with custom made splints improved but those with premade or ‘off the shelf’ splints did not.
INSOLES: In my humble opinion, buying and wearing flatter shoes often causes Plantar fasciitis . This is often combined with the whole “go barefoot” rebellion. It’s based on the “well, its more natural, innit” concept and totally, totally fails to take into account the fact that you have worn heeled, and supported shoes for the last 20-30 years!
To actually fix your plantar fasciitis you need my SSES system ( stretch it, smash it, educate it, strengthen it). If you simply stretch it, the trigger points get you, and a lack of strength drags you back into pain. Strength on its own, without educating your muscles and restoring an effective range of motion, is also a low return strategy.
In this course, I’ll teach you these skills with a mixture of video, photos, and written teaching resources to help you learn. You’ll get my email address so any issues I’ll be there to help you. However, I’ll soon set up a free but private Facebook group to support you that way.
There are loads of fantastic stretches for your glutes ( your bottom muscles) . These are seen as the biggest, strongest muscle the body has, and is the one that really powers most human movement.
It’s crucial to build a supple muscle . Today, I’m just getting you used to this”easy” lie on your back stretch. Simply cross one leg over the over in a figure of 4 shape and pull the “4” towards you (see above). You’ll feel a great stretch.
If that doesn’t work for you, isolate the core of this moves by grabbing your leg and ankle so you can see what you have to do to get the stretch to work. Focus on pulling the knee up towards your chest, with a pull across your body (see below).