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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stretching 101: Achilles Stretch

The dreaded Achilles tendon. Besides being super awesome (it's the thickest and strongest tendon in the human body) it is also very problematic for many runners. Coupling intensity and volume can often times lead to overuse of the tendon.  I felt this very pain late summer last year and through what I can only describe as pure luck, I discovered you can actually stretch it and the benefits had me running again within days.  My wife's also made use of this stretch with great success.  It is now your turn to enjoy it!

Step 1: Sit down on butt with your legs stretched out ahead of you. Bend one leg up towards your chest and grab your heel with one hand and place the other on the bottom of your toes. You should now be able to gently bring your toes towards your shin.  View image 1 above for the proper positioning at the end of this step.

Step 2: Using the hand beneath your toes gently bring your entire foot towards your shin by pulling from beneath the ball of your foot while keeping your toes bent towards your shin as much as possible. Use your judgment here, it is more important to move the ball of the foot towards the shin than it is to have your toes bend up completely. Be cautious, if you keep your toes bent too much, it could cause some mild discomfort. View image 2 above for proper positioning at the end of this step.

Step 3: Continue holding this pose/stretch for 30 to 60 seconds and if you can, slowly bring your toes and the ball of your feet closer to your shin.  You should feel this stretch directly in your Achilles tendon and I guarantee it will take care of all your heel/calf pain you're experiencing because you've been neglecting this stretch.  Keep it in your back pocket, it's a wicked weapon to have.

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