We see lots of people with tight calves day to day and after sports. Tight calves limit ankle movement and sends increased stresses up into the knees, hips and lower back, especially in running and cycling. In some cases tight calves or ankle restriction can lead to muscle strains and achilles tendinopathy.
Calf tightness and achilles tendinopathy are often due to overuse. This can be due to;
- Increasing your distance or time walking/ running/ cycling too quickly
- Running/ walking in low drop (flat shoes)
- Running technique
- Calf weakness
Knowing your running technique is important, if you ‘overstride’ or run on your toes it is likely you are putting increased loads through your calves and achilles tendon. We look to decrease this by promoting a high cadence of up to 180bpm and suggest cues like “pull the ground underneath you” to both decrease load and improve glute muscle activation. This should speed up your times too!
Calf strength is very important. The stronger your calves the more impact you can absorb from the floor and the more spring you have. This reduces your chances of injury and makes you a faster, more efficient runner. A great way to increase calf strength and improve mobility is to use eccentric calf drops. Start with 2 x 10 then increase this to 3 x 15 on 1 leg only. This exercise is great for achilles tendons too, it’s ok to feel up to 5/10 pain whilst doing these. As soon as the above is easy begin adding weight.