Here’s the synopsis: Almost every year, I seem to hurt my lower leg. My legs even like to take turns Last year it was the right, this year the left. Yeah, it sucks. Yeah, it hurts. Sometimes it’s really bad, sometimes it’s not. It doesn’t take a good sport psychologist to point out a cycle and or pattern!
So this time around , I was graced by some oddity of a deep calf muscle and tendon (and to clarify the left side) – sort of like shin splints on a banned substance. Limp city- at least when I tried to run. Last time this happened I went into a stability shoe a la Brooks’ fine Adrenaline 11, and they helped. I then went on to rotate some neutral shoes in there, notably the Brooks Pure Flows.
Note: injuries are hardly ever, in my opinion, just about shoes, although they do help. I also picked up some strengthening exercises that I have recommitted myself to. The result? Returning to running in 3 weeks instead of the 4-6 I anticipated. I recently was asked about my routine used to strengthen my ankles. It is fairly simple, but I’ll walk the reader through the protocol:
1. Ankle Flexion: 10-20 reps x 2-3 sets ea. Done first thing before climbing out of bed, while watching TV, or other times I was stationary. All I did was point and flex my feet, emphasizing feeling a stretch on opposite sides of the leg with each change in position.
2. Ankle Adduction/Abduction (i.e. rolling ankles inward and outward) 2-3 x 10-20 rolling ankles inward (without any add’l resistance); holding 2-4 seconds each time.
3. Single-Leg balancing. I would typically stand on one leg, raise the other, and go through the alphabet, or my name because it’s so long twice.
4. Heel Raises: Sitting at a chair with feet flat on the floor, raise heels off the ground, rotating the ankle out about 30 degrees. Think “up and out, keeping the toes on the ground. This one in particular is supposed to work the posterior tibialis muscle, which plays a role in ankle/foot stability. (think pronation)
I stretch about 2-3 times per day to some extent almost every day and am quite proud/fond of my flexibility routine. Here’s an active stretch I really like a ‘la Competitor.com
Shoes: I am a fan of rotating shoes and shoe types for different types of runs and have been fortunate to have “garage” full of them at my disposal. To get started, make sure and have a proper gait and fit analysis. Pay attention to how your legs feel, especially in the hours and day after a run for discrepancies, and be patient with the strengthening process. Who knows, your stride just may improve along with your strength!
So there you have it. I am actually doing heel raises as I type and have at least 6 miles on the schedule tomorrow! Need more info? Email me privately or for those locally in The Houston area, check out yourbodymechanix.tv.
Stay the healthy course!