Simple stretches to avoid calf and achilles tendon injuries

calf stretch against wall
Illustration #2 - Calf stretch against wall

Whether you are running, jogging, playing basketball or working your calves, achilles tendon soreness is very common. Have you ever thought your calves were sore in the morning after doing calf raises or other physical activity the day before, but the soreness seems more below your calves?  That’s most likely a strained achilles tendon, not your calves.  If rested, the soreness will usually go away in a few days. Worse things can happen, however, if you keep stressing it: the achilles tendon can rupture. If you are an athletic person, this is the last thing that you want happening to you. Besides the tremendous pain, you will probably end up going through surgery and not doing whatever it is that you like to do that got you there in the first place.

The best thing to do and the thing you should always do is stretch, stretch stretch before any activity that will put stress on the achilles tendon.  Some people are more susceptile to soreness and tears of this tendon, and I am one that seems to get soreness there often.  What I have found is that if you do these two simple stretches described below, you will be much less likely to get soreness in this area.

  • Toe raise stretch: Sit in a chair and extend the leg with the soreness so that your heel is touching the floor.  Reach your hand out and pull your toes (concentrating on mainly your big toe) up toward your ankle and away from the floor.  Hold this position for about 30 seconds, raising a little higher and tighter towards the end of the stretch.  Be sure to start out slowly on this one.  Do this twice before activity.  If you are doing this an already injured achilles tendon, you can repeat this a few times and do this up to five times throughout the day.  See illustration #1
  • Calf stretch against wall:  Stand facing a wall from a couple feet away. Keep one foot forward and one foot in back of you.  Lean forward and place your palms against the wall, keeping your heel, hip and head in a straight line.  Try to keep your heel on the ground, which when done correctly, will stretch the calf as well as the achilles tendon as a secondary stretch.  See illustration #2

Even if you have no pain at all, someday you may and it can haunt you – trust me!  Doing these two simple stretches will help keep your calf and achilles pain and injury free!

Toe raise stretch
Illustration #1 – Toe raise stretch
calf stretch against wall
Illustration #2 – Calf stretch against wall
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