Do you have plantar fasciitis? If you are looking to treat your foot, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
The cause of the pain in your heel is your tight calves. Your tight calves increase mechanical stress on the bone, joints, tendons and ligaments in your foot and ankle.
Rather than look to your foot to find pain relief—or rather than lengthen your Achilles tendon through surgery—you can follow a stretching program to stretch your gastrocnemius/calf to eliminate the pain and reverse the damage.
This is not the kind of stretching you do before or after you workout. It’s a daily stretching habit that is done separate from your workouts.
This calf stretching program should be done for 3 minutes, 3 times a day. Period.
This begs the question: why is the optimal stretching time 9 minutes per day?
Just like the One Stretch was born out of Dr. James Amis’ 30 years as an orthopedic surgeon with a foot and ankle specialty, the stretching program has evolved and been optimized over that time as well.
This is a number that is based on Dr. James Amis experience and feedback with thousands of patients over that time.
He has seen patients react in all ways to the recommended stretching protocol: some ignore it, some fully execute it, and still others start strong, but then stop stretching or start to let their new habit slip over time.
Regardless, after more than two decades of offering this stretching recommendation, Dr. James Amis knows that stretching more than 9 minutes produces no better results and this is why 9 minutes is the magic number.
It takes time to stretch a muscle that been tight for may years. Think about it this way: your tight calves didn’t get that way overnight, so you can’t “undo the damage that fast, either. Failure to stretch for along enough time period is probably the number one reason for those those who “fail” with the stretching program. Based on the thousands of patients Dr. James Amis has seen, just a few weeks isn’t typically enough!
9 Minutes is the Magic Number
“I don’t have a problem with my patients stretching more than 9 minutes, it is just that I know through experience that 9 minutes per day is the real ‘sweet spot’ for improving our quality of life, and maintaining that quality of life. Frankly the results are stunning.”
Look at it this way: If we stretch our calves less than 9 minutes each day, it’s definitely going to be less effective than it could be. If we stretch our calves more than 9 minutes per day, it’s not necessarily going to solve the problem any faster. So, 9 minutes is it.
Is it Long-Lasting?
The ultimate goal would be for every person to stretch their calves every day for 9 minutes (or 3 times a day for 3 minutes). This simple, daily routine will prevent the majority of foot and ankle problems before they even occur. Now that would be a novel concept, wouldn’t it!
There are a variety of treatments for problems caused by tight calves. Since you are reading this post, you have probably already tried a few of them. Some of the most common include physical therapy, orthotics, rest, immobilization, injections, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
While these treatments may help your symptoms, none correct the actual cause – a calf that is too tight. That’s why most of these treatments fail and, if there is any improvement, it is typically not long-lasting.
A Revelation in Behavior Change From Lonnie Soloff
Dr. James Amis shares this story, just another lesson with behavior change:
I have been the foot and ankle consultant to the Cincinnati Reds for 20+ years and I have made my fair share of trips to spring training. A number of years ago I consulted Lonnie Soloff about my shoulder. Lonnie, at the time, was the Reds assistant trainer and now he is the head trainer of the Cleveland Indians.
On a warm spring day at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, I asked Lonnie for a quick exam of my right shoulder for what I was pretty sure was simple subacromial impingement or bursitis. The shoulder was really just a nuisance, but I did not want it to become more. He confirmed that indeed it was impingement and I asked him to ‘show me an exercise’ to do so I could strengthen my rotator cuff and get out of this problem.
He ended up giving me a stack of papers with 19 different shoulder exercises for me to do.
There is more to the story but my takeaway from this exchange was: I wanted (and asked for) the ONE EXERCISE that would help me most.
I confirmed a valuable lesson I had pretty much known from treating my own patients: that the majority of us are, by nature, not complaint with what someone else tells us we should do, and we know we should do and in this kind of scenario… I was no different!
Regardless of how much we might want to get better and how much we understand what we need to do to get there, SIMPLICITY MATTERS.
Lonnie reconfirmed that straightforward, simple solutions (when available), are always the best because they foster compliance, or our ability to follow-through on those recommendations.
To me, compliance equals better, and means people have a greater chance at fixing the cause of their foot and/or ankle pain.
What’s Stopping You?
In the end, it doesn’t get much simpler than spending less than ten minutes a day to improve our quality of life.
Are you reading this because whatever you have tried has failed to help you? You may have “tried everything,” but you really have not tried everything. Now it is time to try what works.
Try 9 minutes everyday. After all, what do you have to lose?