Today, on the Doc on the Run Podcast, we’re talking about two reasons that stretching the plantar fascia can be bad for runners.
Yesterday, I was seeing a runner who has planter fasciitis, and this is the most common condition that affects the foot in runners that get an injury. So, when you get this injury, there are lots of things recommended that can be helpful and one of the ideas is that you get the plantar fasciitis because the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of the foot is just way too tight. If it’s way too tight, then one of the fixes might be to stretch it out.
Well, first of all, it’s very difficult to stretch the planter fascia, because it’s the largest ligament in your foot, and it’s not that pliable. It doesn’t stretch very easily.
The reasons I came up with this episode is that the guy I saw showed me some stretches he was doing to try to stretch the planter fascia. Now, there are several ways to do this. One of them is to take your foot and put it up against the wall, where your toes are on the baseboard and your foot slanted against the wall and your toes are cranked upward, and then you lean your knee forward against the wall. That will very effectively stretch the plantar fascia, but it can actually cause some damage and this is the reason I don’t like this stretch at all.
Number one, is that if you have not just plantar fasciitis, but what we call an interstitial tear or a teeny weeny little tear within the collagen within the fascia itself, well, you can actually make that rip more. Because you can stretch the fascia so effectively, you could actually tear it a little bit. That would be worse. That’s not going to make you better.
The second reason that I don’t really like it is that, first of all, it doesn’t really address the tightness in the Achilles tendon. Well, that’s actually a third reason, but we’ll just drop that for now.
The second reason I don’t really like it is that I’ve seen many runners who actually started with planter fasciitis, they start doing all of the stretches and the things that might help plantar fasciitis and because they’ve seen a video that shows them this stretch that can really effectively try to stretch the fascia itself, they’re cranking their toes up against the baseboard, they’re leaning their knee against the wall, they’re cranking the ball of the foot into the baseboard, and the edge of that baseboard and the wall pushing up on the toes so hard can actually injure the plantar plate ligament and that’s worse.
That’s one of the smallest ligaments in your foot. And if you injure it, it is way worse than planter fasciitis. So again, I don’t really like this stretch where you’re just cranking on the fascia, trying to stretch it selectively. I think it’s much better to try to stretch the Achilles tendon instead. Believe it or not, that’ll help you a whole lot more.
Now, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it with somebody who needs to hear it, share it with a runner who’s having trouble getting back to running after an injury and if you haven’t checked it out yet, if you have heel pain and you think it’s plantar fasciitis, you’ve got to check out the presentation I put together for you on the two reasons some runners with heel pain don’t get better.
It’s free. We’ll have a link in the show notes, but you got to check that out so that you can figure out what to do and make sure you’re on the right track so you can get back to running as quickly as possible. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you in the next training.