Overuse from playing sports and working out can cause your instep – the top of the arch of your foot – to feel painful. Usually the posterior tibial tendon, which runs from the back of the ankle across the instep and to the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed. Tightness ensues, which if left untreated can interfere with the foot’s ability to absorb shock; eventually the shock can lead to injuries in the legs, hips and back. Using lunges to stretch the instep can help to reduce pain and restore flexibility.
Warm up before stretching to protect your muscles. Perform five to 10 minutes of light cardio, such as walking, riding a stationary bicycle or using an elliptical trainer.
Stretch using slow, gradual movements. Avoid forcing any muscles to stretch beyond their natural ability or to the point of pain. Breathe consistently while stretching to aid the oxygen flow to the muscle; breathe in and out of your nose for a count of five in each direction. Avoid bouncing in the stretches, which may cause small tears in your muscles.
Forgo shoes and stretch in bare feet to better target the instep; Yoga Journal reports that shoes may constrict the muscles in your feet when stretching them. Include instep lunges in your regular stretching program at least three times per week to keep the muscles flexible. Repeat each instep stretch three to five times.
Stand facing a wall and place both hands on the wall with your arms extended over your head. Step your left foot back into a lunge by 1 to 2 feet and place the left foot flat on the ground. Lift the right foot and place the ball of the foot and the toes against the bottom of the wall as you rest the heel on the floor. Lean your body toward the wall in a slow, gradual motion; you should feel the stretch on the instep and along the bottom of your foot. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat with the left foot.
Position yourself again facing a wall with your arms extended over your head and hands on the wall. Step the right foot back by 1 to 2 feet. Point your foot and place the top of the foot on the floor. Slightly bend both knees until you feel a stretch in the top of your instep and foot. Hold for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat with the left foot.