By Annelize Ferreira, June 2014
“The reason why your leg is injured is because your quads and hamstrings are weak and you have poor gluteal strength. ” Does this sound familiar?? It has probably prompted you to spend many hours in the gym strengthening these ‘powerhouse’ muscles.
Have you ever heard your physiotherapist, trainer or coach say: “ work your calves a bit harder!’
What is the function of the calf muscle?
Consider that the calf muscle and it’s associated tendon complex are the first muscle group to activate when you are walking, running and playing sport. The calf muscle together with the Achilles tendon have to work hard to turn the feet over, which in turn moves the knee and hip during the walking cycle. This effort increases during the running stride when the impact through the leg is about 3 times your body weight.
If the calf is weak or has low endurance, i.e. tires quickly, the alignment of the foot knee and hip start to fail. This leads to the forces of impact absorbed, not by the whole leg, but specific areas such as the plantar fascia or the knee joint and can lead to heel pain or pain around the kneecap.
What does this mean for you?
You can prevent injury and improve your performance by improving calf strength and endurance. The specific benefits of strengthening your calves are:
- It can improve your foot and leg biomechanics.
- It can improve your running endurance.
- It can improve your explosive power for jumping and landing
- It can reduce calf strains.
- It can help build new collagen around the Achilles tendon which will prevent and treat tendon problems.
- It may help in the rehabilitation injuries such as Achilles tendinopathies, calf strains, Knee injuries and Plantar Fasciosis.
How do I strengthen my calves?
It is really easy but it is best to consult your physiotherapist, who will perform a biomechanical assessment and ensure your calf-strengthening program is tailor made to your needs!
To find out how to strengthen your calves effectively give Harrogate Physiotherapy Practice a call on: 01423 544004.