As people head into the running season (the SMH half is just around the corner) we start to see a lot of foot, ankle and calf problems at Balance in Motion. Most people think this is because their calves are tight. And in some cases this is the case. However…. in most cases it isn’t.
The tightness felt is actually a series of small muscles that live deep in the calf. These three muscles are responsible for toe movement and controlling the amount your ankle and mid-foot roll in, or pronate. These are your toe flexors and tibialis posterior.
Tibialis posterior is like the Richie McCaw of the foot. He is a workhorse. It attaches to 9 bones in your foot and really does a lot more than we probably know at this point in time. Controlling your arch is one of them. Tibialis Posterior has a couple of other muscles with funny names that it works pretty closely with.
Peroneus Longus starts at the outside of your shin and wraps all the way around through the bottom of your foot, to attach onto the inside of your foot. What a journey!
Finally Tibialis Anterior, Tibialis Posterior’s little brother. TA assists TP with the above function and again attaches into the inside of the foot. These three muscles create what I call the mid-foot hammock – and when all three work in synergy there is harmony in your foot function. Any disturbance that results in an alteration to the amount of effort required by one of the above muscles affects them all. For example changing from big chunky running shoes to minimalist shoes, deciding to do a marathon on the background of no running, changing from heel striking to toe/midfoot running instantly and anything else in between. I find as soon as I run past 12 kms my calves start to get tight and also if I ramp up my “speed” work (stop laughing).
So head into this running season armed with knowledge by adding the three stretches below to your routine.
Hold them (for a minimum of 30 seconds and up to 1 minute each) and complete (ideally every day) but at the very least after your long runs, or speed sessions.
If this doesn’t help come on in and see us while the tightness is little sore, and not when you’re limping – so we can get you back out there a.s.a.p!
I’d love to hear your results, comments or problems with these stretches so post a reply at the bottom of this blog and update me on your progress.
Tibialis Anterior stretch. With feet pointed straight ahead, sit back on heels
Tibialis Posterior stretch. Stand with the outside of the foot along the edge of a rolled up towel. Bend the knee directly forwards, keeping the heel on the floor.
Peroneus Longus stretch.