About fours years ago, I began experiencing severe left foot pain at the base of my second toe. It made walking difficult, and by compensating, my right knee started to hurt. I finally went to a podiatrist. He took X-rays, and did an ultrasound on my foot. A neuroma was ruled out, but he said my 2nd thru the 4th toes on my left were turning inward toward me big toe. “Probably congenital, and not much you can do about the condition without surgery, or at the very least, orthotics.” So, I bought a pair of orthotics, and it did reduce my pain, but didn’t get rid of it completely. I went back to the podiatrist again, and asked him if there weren’t some exercises and/or stretches that I could do to at least attenuate the toes direction. The doc said “No.” Knowing that there must be something I could do proactively, I researched foot, ankle and shin muscles and movements. To my amazement, I found three that not only took my pain away, I also haven’t worn my expensive orthotics in over two years. I would like to share them with you.
1). Golf or tennis ball under the foot. I start at the base of the toes, and make a grid pattern all the way to the front of the heel. I apply strong pressure, especially where there is tenderness, but not to the point of tears. I do this twice daily for about a minute each time.
2). Calf stretches. Placing the ball of my foot on a rolled up towel or a book (a foam roller cut in half works great) about 3 inches high with my toes forward and my heel on the ground, I step forward of that foot with my other foot, but not too far at first (the stretch will be intense. Be sure not to lean forward, keep shoulders over hips over back ankle. Do this with the stretching legs knee straight and then bent, to stretch both calf muscles. Then I fan my toes inward like pigeon-toed and repeat to get the inner calf (this position is the tightest on me). Then fan the toes outward. I do these stretches twice a day. As for duration-I hold it until the stretch is comfortable.
3). Top of the foot stretch. My favorite! Step back with a leg far enough to place the top of the foot on the mat. Stand up straight and feel the stretch in the front of the ankle and shin. Then I roll my ankle out and in as far as I can.
If you have foot pain or stiff ankles, give these a try. I want to hear your feedback.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.