Before beginning an exercise regimen, proper stretching is essential. If muscles are properly warmed up, the strain on muscles, tendons, and joints is reduced.
Stretching exercises should take 5-10 minutes, and ought to be conducted in a stretch/hold/relax pattern without any bouncing or pulling. It is important to stretch the propulsion muscles in the back of the leg and thigh (posterior), and not forget the anterior muscles.
Some effective stretching exercises include:
- The wall push-up. Face a wall from three feet away, with feet flat on the floor, and knees locked. Lean into the wall, keeping your feet on the floor and hold for 10 seconds as the calf muscle stretches, then relax. Do not bounce. Repeat five times.
- The hamstring stretch. Put your foot, with knee straight, locked, on a chair or table. Keep the other leg straight with the knee locked. Lower your head toward the knee until the muscles are tight. Hold to a count of 10 then relax. Repeat five times, then switch to the other leg.
- Lower back stretch. In a standing position, keep both legs straight, feet spread slightly. Bend over at the waist and attempt to touch the palms of your hands to the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Excessive tightness of the calf muscles can contribute to many foot problems and some knee problems. A key point of injury is the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel. When the calf muscle tightens up, it limits the movement of the ankle joint.
Calf muscle stretching is very useful in the treatment of many foot disorders and for the prevention of foot problems. Two typical methods for stretching your calf muscles include:
The conventional method most runners use while facing and leaning into a wall.
An alternative method of standing approximately two feet from a wall. While facing the wall, turn your feet inward ("pigeon-toed") and lean forward into the wall, keeping your heels on the floor and the knees extended. Keep your back straight and don't bend at the hips. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and do the stretch 10 times in a row.