We have been seeing a lot of calf irritations and some calf/Achilles injuries recently in the clinic. What we need to keep in mind is; even a slight shift in running technique, this posterior muscle group can become a factor, especially if you are trying to become more of a forefoot runner. However, we are seeing many runners who are coming into contact with the ground via their toes or forefoot and then NOT unloading their calf muscles.
In order to unload the stored energy in your calf muscles, you must make contact between the ground and your heel….even if it’s just for the slightest moment.
The desired effect of the posterior muscle group in the lower leg is for the Achilles tendon to act like a “spring”. In order for this to happen the Achilles needs to achieve a stretched position in order to recoil and produce the desired force.
Be conscious with your practice drills and exercises! When executing these training elements, watch (or feel) what is happening at the ankle/heel. The key to allowing the heel to contact the ground is a neutral ankle!
See below for a great exercise to practice this!
Two Legged Hops