Correctly using the One Stretch
With your back to the wall, and the device in front of you, place the length of your foot between the wall and the One Stretch. Individuals may prefer the product closer or farther away.
Place the palm of your hands against the wall and step up onto the device, using the wall as support. Keep your balance as you step up onto the curve.
After stepping on to the One Stretch, slide your feet back, alternating one foot after the other to find your desired stretch intensity.
Now just allow your heels to slowly sink comfortably towards the floor in order to optimize your stretch keeping your weight centered on the arch of your foot. Now you can stretch the right way.
Our Stretching Protocol
How long and how often should I stretch my calves?
- Find your starting point based on your age, fitness level and health status. (See scale below.) Use the numbers (1-4) on the device as points of reference, with 1 being the least intense, and when the device is turned around, 4 providing the most intense stretch. There is not a set position to start stretching, as all people are at different fitness and flexibility levels. Once you have found a position that provides a good stretch, you can work from there. The optimal stretching time is ultimately 3 minutes 3 times per day, EVERY DAY.
- Do the stretching in one session or cluster. Think of it as doing three sets, and each time you are on the One Stretch being the repetitions in that particular set. After each set (15 sec., 3 min., etc.) is completed, take a brief rest (brush your teeth, please), and then on to the next set. Complete all three sets and you are finished for the day. There is no benefit to spreading these exercises throughout the day, even though this would seem logical. However this method makes it easy to forget and quit.
- A light to moderate stretch that you feel in your calf is as good as a hard intense stretch. Be Patient!
- You can decide for yourself the length and number of sets you want to do, but this is our recommended stretching protocol.
Suggested Starting Points and Weekly Progression
Most people start right out at 3 minutes 3 time per day. However, we recommend considering a more conservative, safer start using shorter times and building up especially considering your age, health status, and current state of fitness as shown in the graphic below. Of course if you find the start too slow you can advance as tolerated.
The Finer Points: More Detail
Calf stretching is very important for a wide variety of people whether you have a problem or not. And there is absolutely no better or safer way to do calf stretching than on the One Stretch. The ultimate goal would be for us all to stretch our calves everyday and prevent the majority of foot and ankle problems before they occur. Now that would be a novel concept, wouldn’t it.
There are a whole variety of treatments for the problems that tight calves may cause, a few of which you may have already tried. These would include physical therapy, orthotics, rest, immobilization, injections, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. While these treatments may help the symptoms, none correct the actual cause, your calf that is too tight, and therefore, are usually not long-lasting.
First of all, you must know that the primary cause of the majority of foot and ankle problems is due to our calves that have become too tight as we age. Usually the calf contracture is “silent”, so you are not aware. The calf muscle and Achilles tendon are a continuous structure on the back of the leg, which in turn causes increased stress on most areas of your foot and ankle when the calf is too tight. As people age, tightness (contracture) is almost inevitable. There are several reasons this occurs such as:
- Decreased daily activities. As we become more sedentary, we have less daily stretch of the calf muscles.
- Age-related decrease in the elasticity of the calf connective tissue.
- Higher heeled shoes will put the calf in a shortened position and it tends to stay there.
- Athlete’s/runner’s calves shorten for reasons outside the scope of this handout.
Our treatment is aimed at solving the primary problem of calf contractures with simple static calf stretching. In turn, your problem, which is due to or aggravated by calf contractures, will improve or resolve completely.
Simple calf stretching is the treatment of choice and will generally obtain satisfactory to complete relief in better than 95% of the patients. Some patients may require as little as 2 weeks to see improvement while others may need upwards of 5-6 months to break through a long standing calf contracture.
In the beginning the amount you stretch will vary due to pain or soreness of the calf muscles, heels, or other problem we are treating. This stretch will be done with both feet, therefore you may experience increased new pain in both heels, but this new pain will resolve as well. This stretching should be done three times a day; building up to three minutes of hang time for each session or set as detailed on the chart above. For the best consistency do the stretching sessions like “sets” or in a cluster; do your first stretch session and take a break for 1-2 minutes (e.g., take your shower) then the next stretch session and so on. That way you are done for the day and you are less likely to miss.
With your back against the wall and your knees straight, place the arch of your feet on the One Stretch (it is best to wear tennis shoes or rubber soled shoes in order to gain better traction to secure your feet) and slowly relax your ankles, letting your heels go downward. If you are in the correct position you should feel a pulling or tightness in your upper calf muscle, below the knee. It is OK to feel some mild pain. The amount of time you start at is dependent on your age, fitness, and any current health issues (see chart above). For instance, if you are young, fit, and healthy you might start at 3 minutes right away. Of course it is always best to use caution when choosing your starting point.
Do the three sessions per day gradually increasing the amount of hang time. At times you may need to stay at the same amount of hang time for a few extra days. As you become accustomed to that particular amount of hang time you will need to increase it gradually in the same manner until you reach the maximum of 3 minutes each session. This is a gradual process and although you may want to get right to three minutes of hang time it may not be advisable to do so as you may cause yourself unnecessary pain. Also, keep the intensity of your stretch reasonable. A light to moderate stretch that you feel in your calf is as good as a hard intense stretch. The length of time you stretch has been found to be much more important than the intensity of the stretch. Be Patient! Don’t over do it.
The majority of patients will experience new or a slight increase in pain somewhere between 2-6 weeks after beginning the stretching program. This is definitely expected and is usually only minor increase in pain and should not be excruciating. If it becomes severe, please consult your physician. If you continue the stretching program and work through this pain, it typically begins to resolve within a few weeks. As you progress with the stretching program, your response will have an up-and-down course (you will have some good days and bad days)—this is expected and normal. While not every patients’ symptoms are relieved completely, usually a satisfactory result is obtained within one to four months. Once you have obtained satisfactory relief, we recommend that the stretching is continued FOREVER.