Calf and Achilles care...the Incline & Slant Boards
Just about everything has been written about proper stretching for athletes. Since my sport is running, here is my favorite and most effective stretching regimen to minimize lower leg injuries...especially the calf muscles and Achilles tendons. Remember too that if you properly stretch and strengthen these leg drivers you will be also be assisting the related drivers...plantar fascia, ankle, quads and hammies.
Get yourself an Incline Board, otherwise known as Slant Board! You simply place this angled ramp-like device against the wall. Before and after your runs, set the incline to a comfortable angle, say 45 degrees, and climb on. It is best to wear your running shoes; however, bare feet are fine too. You will slip off just using socks.
Make sure your feet are flat on the board, not lifting your heel and thus bending your arch and forefoot. Place your hands on the wall and perform a slight static stretch on the board. You should experience a comfortable stretch feeling in the entire leg...ankle to hip. Hold the stretch for 25-30 seconds and do not bounce. Do this for 3 repetitions. If the stretch is too uncomfortable, set the incline to a lower angle, perhaps 30 degrees. If the stretch is too easy, raise the angle.
You can build your own board or purchase one for around $60. Search them online.
For those of you naysayers who prefer to do a similar stretch using the curb of a street or the bottom step on a stairwell, keep this in mind. These alternatives create a back vs. forward lean minimizing the proper stretch. Also, these alternatives create a bending of the foot arch and the ball of the forefoot also minimizing the proper stretch.
Get yourself an Incline or Slant Board. Take it to your next race too. They will help you avoid lower leg injuries.
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