Calf Stretching: Replicating Function to Maximize Sports Performance
A typical gastroc(calf) wall stretch consists of lengthening the muscle in the sagittal plane only. A significant oversight is the importance of the gastroc’s ability to lengthen while the calcaneous is inverting/ed and this ability’s effect on optimal propulsion during the push off phase of weight bearing activity such as walking and running.
During maximum dorsiflexion(lower leg driving over the foot of the back leg of gait), the calcaneous is going thorough inversion which creates stability at the midfoot and allows for an effective stable load of the calf to prepare for propulsion.
Without the gastroc’s ability to lengthen with the calcaneous inverted, the mid foot does not fully lock to allow for a stable lever to propel off of : the athlete sacrifices optimal loading and therefore has decreased propulsion. This can also lead to developing a painful condition known as plantar fascitis.
To perform stretching of the gastroc with the calcaneous inverted and inverting: utilize TRI-STRETCH®. Stand at the wall for a typical calf stretch. Make sure to keep your trunk upright to bring the stretching leg in to hip extension (replicating the position of the back leg of gait). Utilize TRI-STRETCH® under the stretch leg foot . Once in the stretch, slowly tip the TRI-STRETCH® to its outer rocker, causing the calcaneous to invert. The athlete can dynamically and slowly tip the TRI-STRETCH® from inverted to neutral and back again or hold a static stretch in the inverted position.
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