Wearing shoes with more than 1/2 inch heel puts the calf muscles (gastroc/soleus group) in a shortened position.  Many years of wearing "heels" without stretching the calf will result is short (tight) calf muscles.  This can result in achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis and heel pain.  

What happens is, after wearing "heels" all day the calf muscles shorten.  
Sleeping over night allows the calf muscles to stiffen.  You get up and step on the floor barefoot.  Without the heel of the shoe, your heel goes all the way to the floor.  This causes a sudden stretch on the achilles tendon, calf muscles (gastroc/soleus muscle group) and the plantar fascia.  The gastroc/soleus muscle, via the achilles tendon, pulls in one direction on the heel.  The plantar fascia pulls in the other direction.  This results in heel pain.  Over long periods of time this pulling on the heel bone (calcaneous)can cause heel spurs.

Ocassionally achilles tendon will rupture.  This is usually due to a sudden forceful injury but may happens without warning.  People describe a sudden sharp pain "as if I was shot in the calf with a bebe gun,"  followed by major limitation / inability to walk.  With a compete rupture the calf muscle will bunch up at the top of the calf producing a visible bulge.

What can you do?  Avoid "heels" or do a few simple stretches daily if you  wear "heels". go for a long walk or walk up hills.  Start stretches at the first sign of stiffness of the calf or discomfort in the heel.

STRETCHING the calf

Step forward.  Put weight on the forward foot.  
Bend forward knee slightly.  Move your body forward 
from the hips .  
Keep the back heel pressed to the floor.  
Your back foot needs to point straight forward.  
You should feel the stretch in the back of the back calf.  
Stop when you feel a stretch.  Do not push into pain.  
Hold for 15 seconds.  

repeat 3-5 times.  

Use this stretch if you notice discomfort in the 
calf or heel while walking.


ALSO:
To focus more of the stretch in the achilles tendon repeat the above stretch with the back knee slightly bent.


If you are having pain with the first step in the AM use a device to keep your ankle bent to about 90 degrees during the night.  I recommend the Strassburg Sock because it is inexpensive and comfortable and stretches both the gastroc/soleus muscle, via the achilles tendon and the plantar fascia.  

 

Back and Body Care
PHYSICAL THERAPY SERVICES
3004 16th Street, # 303
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-3099


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