Since I’ve been talking so much lately about how I’ve been going to physical therapy to rehabilitate my feet, I thought I’d share what a typical appointment is like for me.
I first started going a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you… it was painful! I’m used to physical therapy, since I’ve been going since my sophomore year of high school for my sciatica, but it was never as painful as it was that first time for my feet!
Before going to PT, I’d been following my podiatrist’s recommendation of doing a lunge-like stretch for my calves ten times a day for ten seconds each. My PT explained to me that, while I was doing the right stretch, I definitely wasn’t doing it long enough. To actually make a difference, any kind of stretch should be performed for at least 60-seconds at a time. Wow! Ever since I’ve been taking that advice, my calf muscles have felt much looser.
My typical physical therapy appointment starts with me getting there 15 minutes early and spending a good 20 minutes on the exercise bike. I pick whichever program I feel like doing that day and pedal away until I’m dripping with sweat! Using the bike for 20 minutes before my appointment helps to warm up my legs and calf muscles before he works on them.
After I use the bike, I spend a few minutes out in the hallway doing the lunge stretch, until he says I can stop. For the next 20 minutes, he “beats the snot” (his own words!) out of my calves. First he uses the ultrasound machine which basically tenderizes and loosens up the muscles, then he uses moisturizer and gives my muscles a deep tissue massage. Now that I’ve been going for a few weeks, this part actually feels good! I love leaving the appointment feeling like I could run a marathon.
Some of you might be asking – why is he working on your calves when the problem is in your feet? Good question. The place in my foot that hurts is caused by tendons that are simultaneously pulling in two different directions. Ouch! In order to help ease some of the pain, we’re loosening up the tendons in my calves that are pulling to give me some relief in my heel area.
Here is a picture of the pain I feel in my foot:
As you can see in the picture below, the two main tendons are the Plantar Fascia and the Achilles Tendon. These are both pulling in opposite directions, causing the tension and pain. By loosening the Achilles Tendon, the Plantar Fascia will become more loosened as well. He’s working primarily on the Achilles Tendon because it’s really hard to stretch and loosen the Plantar Fascia since it’s in such an awkward place.