This month I am assigning homework. It’s not a lot, there is no reading involved, and you don’t have to give a presentation at the end. It’s a simple and easy 5 minutes a day. Five minutes divided into 1 minute of work 5 times a day.
A lot of people have tight ankles, Achilles, and calves. This tightness manifests itself most benignly by forcing the knees in and the feet to pronate when squatting, which can lead to knee problems. Less benignly, it can lead to torn Achilles tendons and pulled calf muscles. None of it is good.
Fortunately, there is a simple fix–stretching. And that’s your homework. Stretch your ankles, Achilles tendons, and calves for 30 seconds each leg, 5 times a day, minimum. Feel free to use as many aids as you can think of–stairs, curbs, door jambs, kettlebells, a squat rack, a rock, anything you can think that allows you to stretch the lower leg.
Don’t forget about the muscles on the front of the lower leg, such as the tibialis (the larger muscle on the outside of your shin bone. A great way to stretch them is to sit on your feet, Japanese style–seiza. Lean back for a greater stretch and to hit the quads and VMO too (pay attention to your knees in this position). Feeling shin splinty? Do toe taps, lots and lots of them. Just like you are tapping your foot to a musical beat. Really cramp those muscles. Then stretch them out with seiza. Repeat.
Want to go further? Foam or ball roll your calves. You will probably need to cross one leg over the other in order to get a little more weight involved. You can also stretch your ankles while in a squat. In fact, this is a great way to go about it as you are stretching with the leg in real flexion. Just get into a very deep air squat and hold it. Push the knees out and lean into each foot. You can use a heavy kettlebell or something to pull you forward.
That’s it, just a few minutes a day can lead to greater mobility and a bigger squat! Almost sounds like an infomercial.
The calf is a strong muscle, think of all the weight it bears regularly, so consistency is key. Good luck and hit it.
Please post thoughts to Comments.
3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
Complete five rounds (not for time) of:
- 3 reps shoulder to overhead (as heavy as possible)
- 6 box jumps (as high as possible)
50 calorie Airdyne Sprint