Further to some of the comments on the achilles tendon threads, I have a specific query related to the correct technique for doing heel drop exercises. I was shown how to do these by a physio about five years ago, but I've forgotten how much of the foot should be on the stair. Should it be past the ball of the foot or just on the edge of the ball of the foot? The more of the foot I put on the stair, the more of a pull I feel on the calf when I drop. I just wondered if anyone can offer any guidance so that I don't do any damage by using the wrong technique.
I've heard that stretching before running is not a good idea as it can lead to injury so I tried running without this the other day and that's when my tendon started playing up again. Is stretching before and after the wrong thing? Based on my recent experience it seems to work for me to stretch before. All the guidance seems to say stretch after. Does it really matter? Also what are the best stretches to do after exercise?
Hi Jane, ball of foot only on stair edge so mid part of foot is off.
Having more of the foot on limits range of motion at the ankle and the stretch you're feeling is probably more of the lower calf muscle, when you want to be stretching both ideally. To target both calf muscles do the heel drops with a straight and bent leg. E.g. 15 x 3 straight leg, then same with bent.
If stretching before running helps you then do it. I do motion stretches before, so no holding, just taking the joints through their normal ROM as part of my warm up.
Best stretches to do after exercise are static ones, where you hold for 20-30 secs. As for what muscles - all the main ones: calves, hams, quads, hip flexors, lower back. Having said that there's not one jot of evidence that stretching itself prevents injury.
Some runners actually benefit from not being too flexible as the muscles retain more power than lax ones. For injury though you want a nice compliant musculotendinous unit for it to function properly, as scar tissue hasn't the same properties as muscle tissue.
Numerous studies have been done on stretching & injury... There's some evidence in military males I think it was, that having flexible hamstrings predisposed recruits to fewer hamstring strains. But in runners there was no difference in lower limb injury rates between those who stretch before or after running.
It's down the individual I reckon - if you feel it works for you, then it probably will, but that cannot be proved. I know runners who never stretch and they're never injured. Too many other factors to say one way or the other.
Generally though you are better doing active stretches that mimic the activity to be performed if you stretch before exercise. Stuff like hip swings, kicking legs behind and in front of you, hops on the spot etc will stretch and mobilise for the activity of running.
The best way to avoid injury is warm up gradually, don't increase your mileage too quickly until you have a good base level. And ensuring the muscles are conditioned to the activity in the first place certainly helps.
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