What are the Best Ways to Stretch my Foot Tendons?

N. Freim
N. Freim
A diagram of the Achilles tendon and common tendon problems.
A diagram of the Achilles tendon and common tendon problems.

Some of the best ways to stretch foot tendons include heel raises — going up on the balls of your feet — and heel drops — lowering them below a step, which can work the foot tendons in both directions. You also can target areas of your feet, such as working the toes by using them to gather up a towel or pulling back on the balls of your feet to stretch the sole area. Stretching the Achilles tendon is as simple as leaning forward on one leg while keeping the heels flat on the floor. You can finish off rolling a stick or a small ball back and forth under your feet to work on any knots as well.

A gentle massage can help foot tendons stay limber.
A gentle massage can help foot tendons stay limber.

Two easy stretches for these tendons are the heel raise and the heel drop, which work in opposition. The heel raise, also called the diver’s stretch, consists of raising up onto the balls of the feet and holding the position before lowering slowly. The heel drop, sometimes called the stair stretch, involves standing with the balls of the feet on a stair step, lowering the heels over the edge of the stair, and raising back up slowly. For both exercises, have a chair or railing handy for balance if necessary.

Movements that gently stretch the Achilles tendon are good warm-ups for runners.
Movements that gently stretch the Achilles tendon are good warm-ups for runners.

To work the toe area, you can try towel scrunches. While seated in a chair, spread a towel out flat in front of you. Using only your toes, grab the towel and pull it toward you. Keep grabbing the towel until you have pulled the entire towel to your chair; repeat three to five times. You can also stretch the toes by pulling back on them with the edge of the towel or stretch the toes individually by pulling gently and rotating them one at a time.

The medial plantar nerve is on the big-toe side of the foot, and plays a role in flexing and curling the toes.
The medial plantar nerve is on the big-toe side of the foot, and plays a role in flexing and curling the toes.

If you are on your feet for long periods, you may need a good stretch for the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot. Sitting with your left leg out in front, place your right ankle on the left thigh. Hold the ball of the foot and pull the toes backward toward your shin until you feel a stretch across the bottom of your foot. Hold for ten seconds. Do five repetitions, then switch legs and repeat.

Rest and elevation may help to treat foot tendon injuries.
Rest and elevation may help to treat foot tendon injuries.

The Achilles tendon runs up the back of the foot into the leg. Proper stretching can prevent painful injuries to the area. To perform the stretch, lean forward and balance against a wall or a chair. Place your left foot about 10 inches (25 cm) behind your right foot, keeping your feet parallel and your legs in line with your hips. Bend your right knee, keeping your right heel on the floor, and press down on your left heel. You should feel a stretch through your heel and calf.

Some foot stretches can target specific areas like the toes.
Some foot stretches can target specific areas like the toes.

To stretch the foot tendons through the front part of your foot, you can try a toe squash. To perform this exercise, kneel with the tops of your feet flat against the floor. Use your hands to push your knees up off the ground while rocking back onto your feet. This will stretch the outside of the ankle and the top of the foot.

Gentle massage can also help the foot tendons to stay limber. Grooved wooden foot rollers are designed to stretch and massage the foot tendons and muscles. You can make your own with a can, a golf ball, or a plain stick, such as a broom handle. To perform this massage, place the roller under your foot and move it back and forth, applying gentle pressure. You may feel some discomfort in tense areas, but regular massage can help work out the knots and keep the feet loose.

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Discussion Comments

Ocelot60

@heavanet- I have this problem too, and I have found that when I stretch my feet straight out several times then release, the tension in the foot tendons eases very quickly. The safest way to do this is to pull over and stop your car for a few minutes.

Heavanet

Sometimes my foot tendons cramp up when I'm driving, and it becomes quite painful to press on the gas and brake pedals. I'm looking for an idea for an easy way to ease this problem.

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    • A diagram of the Achilles tendon and common tendon problems.
      A diagram of the Achilles tendon and common tendon problems.
    • A gentle massage can help foot tendons stay limber.
      A gentle massage can help foot tendons stay limber.
    • Movements that gently stretch the Achilles tendon are good warm-ups for runners.
      Movements that gently stretch the Achilles tendon are good warm-ups for runners.
    • The medial plantar nerve is on the big-toe side of the foot, and plays a role in flexing and curling the toes.
      The medial plantar nerve is on the big-toe side of the foot, and plays a role in flexing and curling the toes.
    • Rest and elevation may help to treat foot tendon injuries.
      Rest and elevation may help to treat foot tendon injuries.
    • Some foot stretches can target specific areas like the toes.
      Some foot stretches can target specific areas like the toes.
    • Tight calf muscles may negatively affect the Achilles tendon and cause tendinitis.
      Tight calf muscles may negatively affect the Achilles tendon and cause tendinitis.
    • Certain foot stretches may specifically address the soles of your feet.
      Certain foot stretches may specifically address the soles of your feet.