Just keep on stretching…right?
Have you ever found when you’ve started increasing your running frequency and/or distance, chances are the next day or two you’re a little sorer and tighter than normal?
It goes without saying that we use our calf muscles A LOT when we run. But because the calf muscles and even the Achilles tendon get used so much, it’s very easy for them to get overworked and tight. If muscles and tendons have decreased flexibility, this then changes the way the load and force is transferred through them.
A simple way that we assess the flexibility of the calf muscles (particularly the soleus) and even ankle joint mobility within the clinic is the knee to wall (KTW) test. If you’ve ever seen tape on the floor with numbers on it at the clinic, this is what it’s used for and can easily be replicated at home for your reference.
This is how it’s done:
1. Stand in front of a wall, one foot flat on the ground, toes against the wall.
2. Push your knee forward until it touches the wall, keeping your heel on the ground.
3. If you’re able to do this, move your foot 1-2cm further away and repeat the above.
4. Repeat until you notice you’re unable to reach the wall without your heel lifting up.
5. Record the max distance reached and then repeat with the other leg to compare.
Normal range is 8-12cm. ~1cm discrepancy between ankles can be normal but any result <8cm indicates either reduced mobility in the ankle joint itself and/or tightness in the calf muscles (particularly the soleus). Research has shown that KTW less than 10cm increases the risk of injury in the lower limb.
There are many ways to stretch out your calf muscles. For an example of how to stretch both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles individually, check out the link below.
If your calves are feeling tight even if you’ve been spending time trying to stretch and foam roll, perhaps there is more to optimal calf function than its flexibility!
Stay tuned to find out what else could be contributing to those niggly calves! If you have any questions or want to pop into the clinic, call 9873 2770 or book online today https://bookings.nookal.com/bookings/location/39XKS