The strong get stronger...
We've previously discussed how the long flexors of the leg (Flexor hallucis longus, Flexor digitorum longus, Tibialis posterior, Peroneus longus & Peroneus brevis) together contribute a sizable 20-30% of force absorption during ground contact in running read here. How can we remove the contribution of these smaller muscles & isolate the larger muscles of the calf, the soleus & gastrocs?
Stand on the edge of a step, curl your toes over the edge, then perform a calf raise. The flexion of the toes places the long toe flexors at a mechanical disadvantage, thereby placing greater work on the soleus & gastrocs. This exercise is also great for balance & highlights the role the toes play in keeping us steady!
How can this be implemented?
Firstly this can be used as a simple test to see how much reliance you have on your smaller calf muscles. Difficulty performing this test can suggest a need for greater strengthening of the gastrocs & soleus
Secondly, it can serve as a good exercise to through into the mix for some variability when rehabilitating a calf strain or Achilles tendinopathy.
Thanks to PT Scott Epsley for the inspiration for this one!
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Mann, R.A., Moran, G.T., Dougherty, S.E., 1986. Comparative electromyography of the lower extremity in jogging, running, and sprinting. Am. J. Sports Med. 14 (6), 501–510
Hamner, S. R., et al. (2010). "Muscle contributions to propulsion and support during running." J Biomech 43(14): 2709-2716.
️Anderson, F.C., Pandy, M.G., 2003. Individual muscle contributions to support in normal walking. Gait Posture 17 (2), 159–169