Monday, March 24, 2014
Monday's Image of the Week: Stretching a Very Tight Achilles
Patients whom have very tight achilles tendons can use this technique to stretch out very gently in a relatively short time. An exercise band (like this yoga strap) is used to place a continuous stretch on the achilles tendon. The strap is anchored around the waist so that the patient does not need to stand or hold the band during the prolonged stretch. A towel is placed under the foot to protect the foot. Then, heat is applied under the calf for 20 minutes, and then switched to a 10 minute ice pack. The secret is to hold the stretch consistently and painlessly for the entire 30 minutes. You need a friend/partner to help with set up and to change the heat pack to ice pack at the 20 minute time interval. Dramatic increases in flexibility are noted within several weeks. Typically this is done every third day, with normal stretching 3 times per day on the off days. It is important to protect the knee while holding this stretch by rolling a towel under the knee to keep it slightly bent. You must make sure your spine is stable as you rest against a firm supportive surface. Stop if any pain develops anywhere. Review with a physical therapist to make the exercise safer for you.