Morton’s Neuroma can be an extremely painful condition, describing the growth of a mass in the ball of a foot, usually due to the compression of the tissue surrounding the nerves leading to the toes. These growths are common, yet entirely benign – however, they can have a drastic effect on your ability to move around comfortably as a Morton’s Neuroma sufferer.
Morton’s Neuroma isn’t likely to disappear on its own, unfortunately. The symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma are more likely to come and go periodically, with some symptoms being relieved entirely for months at a time before making a return, seemingly unprovoked. The condition can be treated effectively with a surgical procedure, but this is often the last resort – luckily, there are measures that you can take in order to reduce the presence of a Morton’s Neuroma without surgery.
Massages (be sure to look at how to do this properly first, to prevent the risk of worsening your pain), buying and wearing the correct footwear, and the use of cold or heat packs on and around the affected area are all good things to practice in order to reduce the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma.
However, one thing that you most certainly should bring into your daily routine to improve your condition is a series of stretching exercises, all designed to stimulate the tissue around the affected area. It’s important that you choose these stretches wisely and familiarize yourself with them as much as possible!
Here are ten of the most effective stretching exercises to relieve the symptoms of Morton’s Neuroma.
- Bottle Roll
This one is quite a soothing exercise to try if you are suffering with a bout of Morton’s Neuroma as it combines the benefits of stretching and exercising the area with the pain-relieving action of cold packs.
First, freeze a bottle of water overnight – ideally one which is made from a rigid material, such as a hard-plastic reusable bottle. Single use bottles are often made from a much softer plastic, which will provide less resistance, though it will still work. Place the bottle on the ground and, with the bottom of your foot, roll the bottle back and forth. Do this for as long as it is comfortable.
- Figure Eight
Sit in a chair and outstretch one leg. With your toes pointed, draw a figure eight in the air – lead with your big toe as you do this. As you continue to do this, try to keep your range of motion as wide as you can, perhaps starting with smaller figure eights and working your way up to larger, much more pronounced movements.
Make the figure eight shape ten times, then lower your leg, switch sides and repeat.
- Manual Planter Fascia Stretch
Sitting down, grasp your heel in one hand, using your other hand to support the ball of your foot and your toes. Without putting too much pressure on the foot, gently pull the top of your foot and toes towards your shins, creating a stretch along the bottom of your foot.
Try to hold this stretch for at least ten seconds, but see if you can work your way up to holding the stretch for up to thirty seconds at a time. Once you have lowered your leg, repeat the process with your other foot for the same amount of time.
- Towel Scrunch
Place a towel flat on the floor and rest your foot on the end of the towel, so that the towel is laid out in front of you. Using your toes, pull the towel close to you, perhaps even adding the use of a weighted object such as a can of food or a full water bottle at the far end of the towel after you are more familiar with this exercise. This extra element of resistance will make it more effective over time.
Once you have repeated this process ten times with one foot, switch sides and perform this exercise ten times on the other foot.
- Wall Stretch
Stand in front of a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and bring your hands to rest on the wall, at shoulder height. Step back with your left foot, so that is is outstretched two-to-three feet behind you. Then, keeping your heels on the ground, bend your knees to lean into the wall and hold this position for at least ten seconds.
Switch sides and repeat. See if you can work up to holding this position for thirty seconds over time, but only if it is comfortable to do so.
- Toe Raise
This may sound simple, but it is still effective.
Stand tall, with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly raise the heels of your feet so that your weight is supported by your toes, hold for two to three seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down again. Repeat this process up to five times, but only if you feel comfortable to do so – repeating this exercise too many times could worsen the pain in the affected area.
- Towel Stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you, then take a towel and hold it around the ball of one foot, the same way you might use a resistance band in a gym. With the ball of the foot in the middle of the towel, hold both ends of the towel and gentle pull the top of your foot towards your shins. Be sure to keep your legs outstretched as you do this – don’t let your active leg bend to make it easier, as this will make the exercise itself ineffective.
Hold this stretch for between ten and thirty seconds, then switch sides and repeat the process with your other foot.
- Single Foot Stance
This exercise is effective as it also helps to improve your balance, which will allow you to perform certain activities with a little more ease, despite the symptoms of a Morton’s Neuroma – however, it’s also incredibly simple.
Stand on one leg for as long as you comfortably can – that’s it! If you do need extra support when you first add this to your daily stretching routine, then you can use a wall or nearby surface to help you keep your balance. However, try to work up to being able to keep your balance without needing to do this.
Once you have stood on one leg for as long as you can, repeat on the other side. Keep a mental note of whether or not you are able to balance for longer on one side than the other, too, as you will be able to work to improve this.
- Invisible Alphabet
This stretch is similar to the figure eight stretch that we already discussed, but does take a little more stamina and strength to complete fully.
Sit with your feet on the ground, then raise one of your legs. Leading with your big toe, write the alphabet in the air in front of you, one letter at a time. Again, try to build yourself up so that you can keep quite a wide range of motion as you do this, but don’t worry if you feel you have to start smaller at first.
Once you have completed the alphabet with one foot, lower this leg and repeat on the other side.
- Ankle Stretches
This stretch is great for improving blood flow in the lower legs and feet.
Sit upright in a chair, holding onto the sides, then slowly raise one leg off the ground, keeping it outstretched. Try to raise it so that it is in line with your opposite knee if you comfortably can! With your raised leg, point your toes away from you, then back towards you. Repeat three times. With your toes still pointed away from you, rotate your foot at the ankle clockwise three times, then anti-clockwise three times. Slowly lower your leg and switch sides, repeating this process three times with each leg if you comfortably can.
How Much Will Stretches Help?
Stretching helps Morton’s Neuroma as it works to build and maintain strength in the arch of the foot. It’s advisable that you work these stretches into your daily routine where possible, but don’t force yourself to do any stretch which seems to worsen your condition or cause further pain. In addition, try not to do over-do it – if you can’t hold a stretch for as long as instructed or repeat as many times as instructed, then this is fine. It’s much better to under-do it than over-do it, as this could exacerbate your Morton’s Neuroma symptoms over time.
It’s also advised that you avoid any more intense forms of exercise, such as jogging or use of gym equipment that places heavy pressure on the feet. As simple as it sounds, Morton’s Neuroma usually responds very well to rest.
It’s all about finding a combination of these exercises and an intensity of these exercises which works for you, as no two people are the same.