Do you skip leg day? – think again!

For anyone who regularly attends a gym, or plays any sport you MUST read on.

There aren’t many magic bullets when it comes to impressive leg strength and muscle control. But honestly, we think calf raises are the real deal!

Calf raises are an effective, yet often overlooked exercise which have been around for along time. The movement is simple – rise up onto your forefoot (double or single leg) and then back down.

This movement replicates the propulsive phase of your walking/running gait by shifting your body weight forward onto your forefoot, and lifting your heels up off the ground.

HOWEVER you’d be surprised at how often we see this exercise being performed really poorly in clients who are active and strong.

Our point? Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.

Correct calf raise technique

  1. Push through your big toe joint
  2. Rise onto your heels at a slow controlled speed
  3. Slowly lower your heels back to the ground
  4. Heels stay in a neutral or slightly turned in position
  5. Symmetry noted for both feet

Picture

Good technique on left vs feet turning in or out on right

Incorrect calf raise technique

  • Having feet turned out putting pressure on the outside of the foot
  • Using momentum with a quick swing up & down
  • Baby calf raises (getting a fraction off the ground & back down)
  • Slow going up and quick down = cheating
  • Shift of torso to the side
  • Holding onto the wall to lift yourself up

 

Grinding the right gears – say what?!

Commonly we’ll see clients in our clinic (majority of them suffering from an overload injury) who will rise onto the outside part of their forefoot rather than their big toe indicating what we call “low gear propulsion”. This is opposed to high gear propulsion, which is through the big toe joint. High gear propulsion is much more energy efficient.

The use of the big toe joint during walking/running is essential for efficient biomechanics. As
well as being the largest forefoot bone (designed to deal with the largest force/load), activation of this joint leads to the arch muscles switching on = power!!

Picture

Pressure through the foot during a calf raise correct (left), incorrect (right)

If low gear propulsion is being used with every step of walking/running, then there is a risk of many injuries occurring. This list is not exclusive, but can lead to the development of:

  • Plantar fasciopathy
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints)
  • Metatarsal stress fractures
  • Neuromas

Do you believe us yet? Will you skip leg day?

What can affect the foots ability to utilise the big toe joint:

  • Worn out/inappropriate footwear
  • Foot/ankle strength deficits
  • Foot/ankle joint mobility
  • Poor flexibility
  • Bunions
  • Arthritis in the toes
The calf raise exercise is awesome for building foot and ankle strength and control.
Incorporating this exercise into your daily routine is a great preventative tool for common
overload injuries. Whats better? You don’t need any fancy gym equipment either!
Our hot tip?
Smash out some calf raises while you’re brushing your teeth! Super easy & you don’t have to think about adding something new to your day. Your dentist  & Podiatrist will be happy!

Picture

Strong calves made easy while brushing your teeth!
What’s next? Our Podiatrists assess and correct calf raises every day. It’s such an important clue as to how your body is functioning dynamically with every step!
With you every step of the way! Joe Keain
Sports Podiatrist
P: (08) 7226 9901
E: joe@podfitadelaide.com.au
W: 
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