Monday, 1 April 2013

Exercise of the Month - Calf Stretches

As April is the month of the Virgin London Marathon we thought we would show you some stretches for the calf muscles. This is often an area that runners feel tension in and if the calf is tight it can lead on to tension in the Achilles tendon and often lead to pain.

Most people will recognise these stretches and most likely already do them, but I have found in clinic that often people don't know about the 2nd stretch which, with a slight change in position, stretches another muscle underneath the main calf muscle that we usually feel and see.

The main muscle we think about in the calf is called the Gastrocnemius (Gastroc for short) and the muscle underneath is called the Soleus. These muscles are known together as the Triceps Surae (because there are 3 of them).

Here is a picture so that you can visualise where they are on your leg - this always helps when performing a stretch as you can take note of whether you are feeling it in the correct place.

 The 1st stretch is for the superficial muscle - the Gastroc. Stand facing the wall, place the leg you wish to stretch behind you and lean on the wall for support. Keep your heel flat on the floor and your back leg straight, if you don't feel a stretch yet then bring your leg further back or lean your body downwards more - you should feel the stretch in the top / middle of the calf.

I generally recommend people to stretch a muscle for a count of 20 seconds and then swap to the other side, if you feel you want to stretch a little more then you can repeat on both sides again.

The 2nd stretch is for the deeper muscle - the Soleus. Adopting the same position as above this time you want to bend the back leg at the knee, always keeping the heel of the foot firmly on the floor. If you find it hard to bend the knee with the leg the same distance back then bring the back leg a little closer to you and try again - sometimes if this muscle is tight you will find it hard to bend the knee with the leg the same distance back as the 1st stretch. With this stretch you will feel it lower down at the bottom of the calf.

If you find the 2nd stretch difficult because you are getting pain in the front of the ankle you may have a restriction in the ankle joint and may choose to visit your Chiropractor.

If you are training for the marathon and feel like your body could do with a tune up then please come along to the clinic for a free consultation and see if Chiropractic can help you on the road to a quicker finish time. 

Chiropractors Hazel and Rachel from the Octagon will be helping out with massage after the Virgin London Marathon in the Tommys tent, we look forward to seeing you there.

Hazel Dillon is a Chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic

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