Stretches can relieve foot, ankle tendonitis pain

June 02, 2022

Chronically aching feet could be a sign of inflammation, caused by injury or overuse.

LEXINGTON, KY. (June 1, 2022) — Those chronically aching feet could be a sign of inflammation, caused by injury or overuse. The most common are plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.

Anyone can develop plantar fasciitis or tendinitis of the foot and ankle. People are more likely to develop tendonitis if they are overweight, fail to stretch before or after physical activity, smoke, have tight tendons and muscles in your legs or have health conditions such as arthritis, gout, thyroid disease or diabetes.

“In most cases, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis can be treated with stretching and a night splint,” said Lisa DeGnore, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the Baptist Health Medical Group in Lexington. “In addition, applying ice to the ankle one to two times per day for 10-15 minutes per session, wearing athletic tape or compression socks, and sitting or lying down with your foot above heart level can help to reduce inflammation and pain.”

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also help.

“Most people don’t need surgery unless the injury doesn’t improve after six months of nonsurgical treatment. Stretching and the night splints are the primary treatment,” said DeGnore.

Stretching increases the elasticity and range of motion of muscles and tendons, which can help prevent injuries in the future. Physical therapy is also an option.

Following are some stretches that may help flexibility and range of motion.

Toe pull stretch

  1. Sit in a chair and put your right lower calf on your left thigh.
  2. Grasp the top of your right foot and your toes with your left hand.
  3. Pull toes and foot firmly up toward shin.
  4. Hold for five seconds, repeat five times, then switch sides and repeat. Aim for 100 times a day.

Achilles tendon stretch

  1. Stand with a wall or chair in front of you for support. 
  2. Place your right foot two to three steps behind your left foot.
  3. Keep your right heel on the floor and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your right calf.
  4. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times for each leg. 

By using stretches for ankle tendonitis and stretches to relieve foot pain — both to prevent and recover from injuries — you can avoid downtime and recover more quickly should an injury occur. The key is to make stretching before, after, and between workouts a habit.   

If you suffer an injury to a tendon in your ankle or foot, our orthopedic and sports science experts can do an exam and prescribe treatment as needed. Search our online provider directory if you don’t yet have a Baptist Health provider.