Exercises for Tendonitis of the Foot
What is Tendonitis?
Tendonitis affects the tendon at the arch of the foot known as the posterior tibial tendon. The arch tendon is important to the foot, as it keeps the foot from rolling in too much during each step. Various contributing factors are responsible for tendonitis, including wearing ill-fitting shoes and not stretching enough before exercise.
Most commonly, tendonitis occurs from overuse without stretching properly 1. Additional causes include standing for long periods of time, walking or running up and down hills, wearing poorly fitted shoes during exercise, and having flat feet.
Symptoms of tendonitis are pain in the top of the foot near the ankle, where the posterior tibial tendon is located 1. When the tendon is sore or injured, you may experience heat in the affected area on the foot, swelling, and stiffness in the ankle and foot after periods of rest. Some individuals also feel an intense pain at the foot's arch, which is caused by inflammation of nerves near the tendon.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
If you have tendonitis, try to stay off the foot until pain subsides 1. Use the R.I.C.E method, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, to heal the sore or inflamed tendon. Apply an ice pack covered with a towel to the area where there is pain, and keep on for 20 minutes. Ice the tendon several times throughout the day to reduce swelling. Keep the foot elevated to reduce swelling, and take an anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin, naproxen or ibuprofen.
To prevent further injury, wait until the tendonitis is healed before performing any exercises using the foot 1. Reduce occurrences of tendonitis by warming up the feet prior to activity 1. Flex the toes and ankle for a minimum of five minutes before applying pressure to the foot. Once the exercise is over, stretch the tendon again 1. Hold stretches for at least 20 seconds, stretching it gently while keeping in a stable position.
A strengthening exercise to stretch the arch of the foot where tendonitis most often occurs is to face a wall, putting your hands against the wall if you need balance support 1. Place the ball of the foot onto the wall, so the toes are stretched toward the ceiling, while keeping the heel stationary on the floor. Gently and slowly, bring your knee into the wall, which will allow the tendon in the arch of the foot to stretch. Hold that pose for 30 seconds, and gently release. Perform this exercise with each foot for three repetitions.
You may also stretch the same muscle without a wall by pressing the ball and toes of the foot to the floor, and lift the heel as high as you can to stretch the arch.
While exercising, stop if you begin to feel pain in the tendons to reduce injury. Feeling pain in the tendons indicates too much pressure is being applied and may cause tears or inflammation in the tendons. Stretching the muscles each day will prevent further injury in the future, reduce tension in the muscle and increase flexibility within each foot.