Calf Stretching- The One Stretch® Position Statement
What would you do if you were a doctor, and you could prevent or help 65% of the feet and ankle problems walking through your door become pain free without surgery?
I am that doctor!
Hi, I am Dr. Jim Amis. I am a fellowship trained foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon. For the past 27 years I have exclusively limited my practice to the adult foot and ankle. Like all the rest of my colleagues, I diagnose patients problems and try my hardest to resolve those problems in any way possible, including surgery. What you read here is my concept on the treatment and prevention of many common foot and ankle problems, which is likely not shared by others. These all too common problems range from nuisance to debilitating in their severity, but they all affect the most important thing; our quality of life.
In the beginning of my career I made a critical observation as to the function of the foot and ankle. In the course of the day to day care of patients, this theory, followed by a series of observations, expanded and grew to an understanding that there is an unrecognized critical singular development, as we age, that creates progressive strain in the human foot and ankle. This strain, which is usually silent for years, ultimately leads to progressive damage until it manifests itself as pain in the foot and/or ankle.
I am referring to the human calf that gradually tightens in the majority of us and silently takes its toll on the human foot and ankle day in and day out. My colleagues are likely to say that they are well aware of this phenomenon and that this is common knowledge or something of a similar tone. Here is where I differ from all of them:
- The pervasive nature of calf contractures and the toll it takes on the foot and ankle is definitely not common knowledge to them. In fact, there are few who consider the calf to be much of a problem at all. Sadly too many doctors of all kinds see only the end result and not the cause. We just assume all these problems that develop in the foot and ankle as we age are random and unrelated.
- Of the few docs out there who give credence to a contracted calf being an issue, they are too quick to denounce non-operative treatment as being ineffective and, as a result, resort to Achilles lengthening surgical procedures. Typical non-operative treatment protocols by your doctor and online consist of a variety of treatments that only include some form of calf stretching usually performed too short of a time. In my opinion they have poor non-operative protocols that are too complicated and do not focus on stretching and, as a result, they fail to produce. There are too many options provided which is confusing and overwhelming, and the one treatment that works is more or less hidden. The protocols provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons (AOFAS) are two such ineffective protocols. Others include Mayo, WebMD, Livestrong, and Dr. Weil. All of these sources provide information that is very similar, not because they are right, but because it is the status quo and there is nothing better, until now.
- Calf tightness is the singular source of twenty common foot and ankle conditions, plantar fasciitis, non-traumatic midfoot osteoarthritis, and posterior tibialis tendon rupture followed by an acquired flatfoot deformity to name a few. They contend that these problems are multi-factorial and far more complicated than just a calf that is too tight. I respectfully disagree; in the great majority of cases it is that simple.
- Calf stretching when done correctly, feeling it in the calf, and doing it long enough is the solution for the majority (about 65%) of non-traumatic, acquired adult foot and ankle problems and also in a few pediatric issues such as Sever’s disease.
- Foot and ankle problems that are a result of calf contractures are at epidemic levels. As we become even more sedentary this problem becomes more prevalent.
- The current treatment of these problems in the foot and ankle poses a staggering yearly expense in the U.S. and world wide. Billions of dollars could be saved yearly if we make calf stretching a daily
- This information is no doubt going to emerge, however it will take years through scholarly means before it becomes common knowledge to everyone, which is too much time. Why not make this common knowledge now? Why not help people now? Why not save money now?
My mission is to bring calf stretching awareness to everyone as soon as possible. I want the solution for the majority of foot and ankle pain to be as easy to solve as taking Tylenol® or aspirin for a common tension headache. Or as common as fluoride use to prevent dental cavities. Face it, you wouldn’t go to your primary care doctor for a common tension headache. And cavities in developed countries is all but a thing of the past. My solution; definitive calf stretching effectively treats, and most importantly prevents the majority of non-traumatic foot and ankle problems. It’s that simple.
Stretch your calves. Save your feet.
James A. Amis, M.D.