Oh, you caught me stretching my calves. This wall stretch that a lot of people do, a lot of runners like to do to warm up, is actually a pretty silly stretch. There’s lots of better ways that you can actually create normal flexibility and stability in your lower leg without having to actually stretch a muscle, to only weaken it and actually hinder performance, and even decrease injury recovery time. So let’s look at a couple of other ways that you can strengthen your calf muscles especially your soleus and your Achilles tendon to prevent and treat injuries.So one great way to increase the natural flexibility of your lower legs, your hips, your knees, and your ankles is actually to work on your deep squat, which I talked about on one of my other videos. So let’s just go over it really quickly. Feet about shoulder width apart, and you’re actually going to go straight down as far as you can while hopefully keeping your heels on the grounds. This is a stress position in many parts of the world. So at first it’s going to be a more difficult position for many people to get into. And actually, you’ll feel where you might have some mobility issues, maybe in the anterior tips of your ankles, maybe you’ll feel a little bit of a stretch or tightening in your Achilles, or maybe even in your thighs. So eventually, you should be able to get in this nice, relaxed position. If you have problems doing this, then what you can do is get up on a two by four, like this, so your heels are a little bit elevated, and then it’ll be much easier for you to come down like this. And another thing that I’ve shown in one of my other videos is that you can actually grab a pole or something in front of you to help with the counterbalance, or even hold a kettle bell like this so the weight will keep you more forward so you’re not falling back onto your heels. So that’s one great exercise or a drill to work on.
The second drill I want you to work on to help increase mobility and flexibility of your lower legs is actually to do a backwards run. This is a great eccentric loading exercise so your heel is sort of dropping down after the ball of your foot touches. A lot of people like to do eccentric heel drops. I think these are even better because you’re getting more of a loading into your Achilles and into your soleus, that lower part of your calf, and you’re going to help with a lot of strength in the foot and ankle. So, really simply, you’re going to run backwards really easy and lightly touch the heels after the ball of the foot lands just like so.
So the last drill I want you to try is a little bit more advanced, maybe a lot more advanced, for many people. And this one is going to really hone in on any little weaknesses that you may have in your ankles and your feet and any little ligament strain that you might have down there too. So it’s going to help a whole lot with strength and the stability of your lower leg and especially your balance too. So you’re going to need a two by four, and what you’re going to do is, as simple as it may sound, you’re going to stand on the board like this with the balls of your feet on the board and your big toe just hanging off a little bit. So not the arch and definitely not the heel. Just stand on the board like so without your heels dropping down, okay?
So get nice and comfortable, like that, and, once you do, traverse the board. Walk across, and it’s a lot harder than what it looks. You’ll really feel any little imbalance you might have in there. Once you get to one end, or get a little ways, then come back and go the other way, keeping those heels off the ground like I am right now. What you can also do is stop at a certain point and squat down, and I’m staying nice and relaxed here like this, staying on the balls of my feet, and then, to make it even more advanced, if you can, come up on the balls of your feet, like this. Get right up on your toes as much as you can and then back down, and do a couple of those almost like little calf raises but in the squatted position on the two by four. It’s pretty difficult, just like that, and back down, and come back up. I’m keeping my balance. I’m keeping my position, nice and tall. I’m keeping my heels off the ground, and I’m going to go and traverse the board again, just like that, never touching, or hopefully not touching. And if you do, just get right back on.
So let me just show you from the back now so you can see my heels. Put them on like so, traverse and across. Okay! And that’s how it’s done.