Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Achilles Stretching Technique
Proper Stretches for the Achilles Tendon are a vital part of every pre and post activity, and especially with injuries to the achilles, calf, plantar fascia, and hamstrings. Please refer to the post entitled "Generalizations in Stretching". There are two muscles, gastrocnemius and soleus, that make up the achilles tendon. These two muscles can be stretched separately by first having the knee straight (gastroc stretch on the left photo above), and then having the knee bent (soleus stretch on the right photo above). With both stretches, it is important to keep the heel on the ground. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, or 8 deep breathes. Deep breathing gets oxygen into the stretch, a good yoga principle. Do not bounce, ballistic stretching. It is never good to jerk the muscle or stretch through pain. You want that good ache feeling. Try to stretch several times a day to actually gain in flexibility, even on days you do not do your normal activities. When non-athletes complain of cramping in their calves, often low potassium or dehydration is blamed. Have them try stretching 2 or 3 times a day and many will experience complete elimination of the cramps.