What is a Pre-Load Stretch?
One of the most common features of Plantar Fasciitis is the heel and arch pain you first get
out of bed in the morning, it’s a sharp, shooting pain under your heel. In Podiatry, this is what
we refer to as “First Step Pain”. It usually eases after 2-5 minutes of being on your feet.
One of the very best ways to ease this is to do what we call a Pre-Load Stretch.
When you have been in bed asleep, your foot has dropped into a plantar fixed position, and
your muscles in your leg, and along your calves, achilles tendon and the plantar fascia all
tightened up. So, when you stand in the morning, this whole area of your foot and ankle is
stiff and inflexible. When you stand it pulls and stretches right through your calf and the
whole area becomes really painful.
What Can I Do?
One of the most beneficial things you can do to try and alleviate this sensation is a pre-load
stretch. This will help to prime the tissue and stretch it out slowly , and get some elasticity in
it before you actually hit the ground and start walking. This will help to smooth out the whole
process and reduce the pain.
One way to do this is to stretch the toes back towards the leg and holding for two lots of
twenty seconds. Or you can use a belt, band, or Thera band, and you can hook this around
your foot and pull it back towards your body. Again, hold this for two lots of twenty seconds.
Once you have done that, you can stand up and do a couple of normal calf stretches. One of
the best ones to do is to have one leg straight with a long calf, and then the other leg bent,
creating a small calf.
How Often Should I Do These?
I would recommend doing these every day before you get up and out of bed, and then
maintain the stretching with the standing stretches every 3 hours throughout the day. Don’t
over do it as you can push too hard, and it will start to get sore. The best way is to feel the
stretch and just hold it there, do not over stretch.