Peroneal tendonitis is an inflammation of one of the tendons in the back of the foot. It can cause pain that radiates from the ankle to the outside of the foot. By performing gentle exercises and stretches, a person can help strengthen the tendons and surrounding areas during recovery.
In this article, we explore the benefits and risks of exercising and stretching with peroneal tendonitis. We also explain how to prevent the condition and list some exercises that a person can try.
Peroneal tendonitis may occur as a result of injury or damage to one or both peroneal tendons in the leg. It is most common in people who participate in activities that involve repetitive ankle movements.
A tendon is a cord-like structure that connects a muscle to a bone. The two peroneal tendons run side by side behind the outer ankle bone. One attaches to the outside of the foot, while the other runs under the foot and attaches to the inside of the arch.
The peroneal tendon can become damaged or injured due to sudden contraction. This tightening can cause it to tear, which may lead to inflammation and irritation. In some cases, peroneal tendonitis may also occur through overuse.
Recovery usually takes several weeks, during which time a person will need to rest the foot. A person may require physical therapy to help restore function and movement to the affected area.
Older research highlights that stretching the tendon can help improve its elasticity and range of motion. Due to this, stretching may help a person regain any motion that they lost after the injury.
After the resting phase of recovery, exercises that work the peroneal muscles may help improve and strengthen the area. Exercises and stretches that work the calf muscle and ankle may be useful to stabilize the area and reduce the risk of future injury.
If a person is recovering from peroneal tendonitis, they will need to introduce exercise and stretching slowly. By doing this too early or taking on too much too quickly, a person may further damage their peroneal tendons.
Before incorporating any stretches or exercises into their daily routine, a person who is recovering from peroneal tendonitis should discuss this with their doctor or physical therapist.
A person can take a few precautions to prevent peroneal tendonitis. These include:
- regularly stretching the calf, ankle, and peroneal muscles
- wearing footwear that appropriately supports the foot
- maintaining proper form when doing exercises that involve the calf, ankle, or peroneal muscles
- increasing the intensity of any weight-bearing exercises, such as running, walking, or jogging, gradually
To help regain strength in the peroneal muscles and aid recovery from peroneal tendonitis, a person may consider doing exercises and stretches that target the affected area and surrounding muscles.
If a person experiences significant pain at any point while doing these exercises, they should immediately discontinue the activity.
To perform this stretch, a person will require a bath or pool towel.
- Sit on the ground with the feet straight out in front.
- Take the towel and wrap it around the toes on one foot.
- Gently pull back until a stretch runs from the bottom of the foot up to the back of the lower leg.
- Hold this stretch for 30–60 seconds.
- Switch to the other leg and repeat.
A person should do this exercise 2–3 times on each side.
Standing calf stretch
The standing calf stretch requires a sturdy closed door or a blank wall.
- Stand facing the wall or door and place the palms against it, slightly higher than the shoulders.
- Step back into a split stance, keeping both feet flat on the ground with the toes pointing forward.
- Slowly lean forward and bend the front knee to feel a stretch in the lower part of the back leg.
- Hold the position for up to 30 seconds.
If a person is not feeling the stretch, they can try bending the back knee slightly while pushing the heel into the floor.
A person should perform this exercise 2–3 times on each side.
A chair, countertop, or table is necessary for this exercise.
- Stand behind the chair, countertop, or table and hold onto it for support.
- Rise onto the toes and hold the position for 5–10 seconds.
- Letting go of the support, lower the heels down slowly.
- If necessary, when lowering down, keep holding the support for balance.
People can repeat this exercise 5–10 times.
Plantar fascia stretch
A person will need to sit on a chair for this stretch. They will also require either a foam roller, tennis ball, or food can.
- Sit on the chair and place the foam roller, tennis ball, or food can under one foot.
- Roll the foot back and forth over the object for 1 minute. Then do the same on the other foot.
- Then, cross one leg over the other, hold the big toe of the crossed leg, and gently pull it toward the body. Hold this for 30–45 seconds.
- Switch the legs over and repeat this movement.
A person should do this cycle of stretches 2–3 times.
To do an ankle flexion, a person will require a resistance band.
- Sitting upright on the floor, place the resistance band around the ball of one foot and then extend that leg out in front.
- Point the toes on the extended leg away from the body, then slowly flex the ankle by pulling the toes toward the shin. Repeat the movement up to 10 times.
- Repeat the exercise on the other leg.
Peroneal tendonitis occurs as a result of damage or injury to the peroneal tendons in the foot.
After resting the area for a few days, if the inflammation has subsided, a person may consider performing gentle stretches and exercises to help strengthen the area.