These past few weeks I have been reading through a book that was recently published – Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway and David Hannaford DPM. I found it quite thorough- possibly useful and accessible to the regular runner – once I got over Galloway’s stretching paranoia and his walk/run obsession.
The sections are grouped by body part (Foot and Toes, The Ankle, The Knee….) and the descriptions of injuries include terminology that runners might use, such as: Outside of the Ankle Mostly – But Can Be on the Inside, Various Pains in the Calf Muscle, or Outside of the Thigh from the Bony Knob on the Outside of the Hip, Going Down…..and so on.
The book was given to me by a client who has been dealing with calf issues for a long time. Her calf issues (perhaps defined as “Various Pains in the Calf Muscles “) had stopped her from running at all for long periods of time. So, they were frustrating for her.
She is now, thankfully, slowly getting back into running, with her calves feeling good. She saw a podiatrist (discovering that yes she does need to wear her orthotics), as well as came in for regular calf focused massages. But she also started regularly to do calf raises (as the above book suggests, for those runners with persistent calf issues) to strengthen her calves.
The book, like the New York Times article that I mentioned in my last suggested calf raises as treatment for calf problems. They have you start with working up to 25 regular calf raises, and then progress to doing calf raises with your toes pointed in, and then toes pointed out. The goal is 25 of each (toes in, toes out) to give you a total of 50 calf raises.
Not only do calf raises (and overall calf strength) help to prevent tibial stress fractures (as suggested in the NY Times article), but they also help with overall lower leg health.
And as you may remember, the article also suggested decreasing your stride length as well to help prevent tibial stress fractures. Likewise, the authors of Running Injuries also suggest: “The most efficient and gentle running form is a “shuffle”: the feet stay close to the ground, touching lightly and with a relatively short stride. When running at the most relaxed range of the shuffling motion, the ankle mechanism does a great deal of the work, and little effort is required from the calf muscle. But when the foot pushes harder and bounces more, and the stride increase, there are often more aches, pains and injuries.”
So, another plug for shorter stride length. And, as some of you may be out running in the snow and ice, shorter quicker strides help you negotiate the messy stuff – and minimizes your foot slipping.