Calf and Achilles Tendon Stretches – A Daily Practice Most Runners Need to Implement
This video was shot a couple years ago and is one of my most important daily practices. As a runner calf and Achilles tendon tightness, and/or injuries are something that effects many of us. In fact, as a Chi Runner, engaging lean (gravity) as a means of propulsion, can create additional dorsiflexion at the ankle which stretches the tissues of the lower leg, including the calf and Achiilles Tendon. Even if you are not a Chi Runner, you ankle flexes with every step working those tissues
The Achilles tendon attaches the Calcaneus (heel bone) to the Soleus-gastrocnemius complex (calf muscles). Whenever you stand then step, dorsi and plantar flexion take place. Now add heels, they don't even have to be high. most running shoes heels are almost a half-inch higher than the forefoot. Over time, this can cause a shortening of these tissues. Then you go running and one day you realize your calves are tight or maybe you have Achilles pain.
Another important thing to understand is the way your foot and body works. We move in three planes, sagittal, frontal and transverse. Upon a step, when the foot reacts with the ground, the foot move in all three of these planes, creating dorsiflexion. So why are we only taught to stretch our calves and Achilles tendon in one plane (the sagittal)? Old school perhaps?
Recent studies have shown that dynamic stretching prepares the tissues for movement better than static. That is why these small movements make a difference. The towel in the video works but it is not great. The slant board rocks. Please give it a try and leave a comment about what you feel in your calf and Achilles. Do this before your runs and you'll run easier.
Train focused, Steve Mackel, CPT