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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.