Easy Exercises for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

foot and ankle exercisesTemperatures have fluctuated since the beginning of March, but spring has officially arrived. March 20, 2015 marks the spring equinox. The nicest part about spring is that it’s not too warm to enjoy being active outdoors—which is why no one wants to stay stuck on the sidelines with tarsal tunnel syndrome. Some simple, easy stretches and exercises may be able to help with this.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a painful problem with a compressed nerve in a structure called the tarsal tunnel. Your tarsal tunnel is a space next to the ankle bones on the inside of the foot. It’s covered by a thick ligament, creating a “tunnel” that a number of nerves, blood vessels, and tendons run through. This protects them to some degree—but it also limits their space. If anything causes swelling or irritation in the tunnel, all the tissues, including the sensitive posterior tibial nerve, end up pinched and compressed.

The good news is that stretching and exercises can help alleviate your discomfort. They reduce tightness in the connective tissues in the tunnel, as well as stabilize your foot so it’s less likely to develop this kind of injury again. Here are a few exercises for tarsal tunnel syndrome you can try:

  • Calf Stretches – Face a wall and put your hands flat against it. Set one foot back and lock that knee. Lunge forward on the other foot so you feel a stretch in the back leg’s calf. Repeat with both knees bent.
  • Plantar Stretches – Sit with your legs in front of you. Bend one knee and flex that foot. Loop a band around the ball of that foot and pull back with your hands. This should stretch your heel and your calf.
  • Pencil Pick-Up – Drop a few pencils on the ground. Pick them up one by one with your bare toes and set them to one side.
  • Toe and Heel Walking – Walk in a straight line across the room on just your heels. Then walk back in a straight line balancing on your toes.

None of these exercises should be uncomfortable to perform. Done right, these easy exercises should help alleviate some of the pressure on the compressed nerve, reducing your pain. Chronically pinched nerves may need a little more care, however. Let Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX, help with your discomfort. Call (281) 497-2850 to make an appointment with us today.

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