Laura Comtois, PT, DPT
Fit For Life Physical Therapy
Who cares about stretching?! I hate stretching! Why do we need to stretch?
These are sentiments commonly heard by physical therapists.
Why is it important to stretch? Well, one big reason is to maintain full joint mobility. If a joint, such as your ankle, cannot move through its full normal range of motion because the muscles around it are tight, your body will compensate for that lack of motion. You may continue running, increase miles, or ramp up intensity with speed workouts, and your body will, of course, find a way to keep moving.
However, it may be at the cost of stress/strain to that joint, stress/strain to muscles and tendons surrounding the joint, decreased strength/performance of muscles, and reduced efficiency of movement (this may be important to a runner or walker who wants to be faster).
So now that you are thoroughly convinced that stretching is really important, let us take the example of the ankle joint a bit further. The usual suspects for tight muscles around the ankle joint are the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles, the two muscles in the back of the calf…we will refer to them as your calf muscles. They point your foot down, like when you pump your car’s gas pedal, and help you push-off and propel forward with running and walking. They also help you come down softly when landing a stride and control your ankle movement when going downstairs.
Common injuries related to tightness in these two muscles are Achilles Tendonitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and a good old calf strain. Here are two basic stretches (with some details to consider) to keep moving and maintain good ankle motion. The first will help restore gastrocnemius flexibility. The second focuses on the soleus muscle.
Hold these two stretches (one with your back knee straight and one with your back knee bent) 10 seconds each, repeat 10 times. Please keep your heel down on the ground and keep your toes pointing straight ahead towards 12 o’clock.
The most benefit will be felt when stretching after some light activity for a dynamic warm-up. These suggestions are basic and generalized. As always, please consult your medical professional if there is any complication, pain, or question about completing your stretches. Keep moving!
Fit For Life Physical Therapy cares for people of all activity levels - to help prevent, recover from, or rehabilitate sports & orthopedic injuries. We are proud to move people every day.
Please visit our website https://www.fitforlifephysicaltherapy.com/, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call or text us at any of the phone numbers for our three convenient locations inside Fleet Feet/FrontRunner stores:
Polaris: 1270 East Powell Road Lewis Center, Ohio 43035 ~ 614-981-2065
Upper Arlington: 1344 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43221 ~ 614-981-1979
New Albany: 5792 North Hamilton Road, Columbus, Ohio 43230 ~ 614-581-7441