November is a great month for running. The temperatures are pleasant, and nearby New Orleans is hosting the Smoothie King Big Easy Running Festival. This race on November 23, 2014, has several distance options—a half marathon, a 4-mile course, and a 1-mile jog—and ends at the Smoothie King Center for a great party. You don’t want to miss a fun event like this because of a painfully tight Achilles tendon. Fortunately, stretching can help you run comfortably and avoid injuries.
Your Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the back of your heel. When it’s too tight, it can hurt to push off the ground. It is also much easier to injure it, which is why stretching is so important. Achilles stretches are easy and can be done at any time. Try incorporating these into your daily habits and race conditioning:
Toe stretch – Sitting down with your legs in front of you, flex your foot so just your heel touches the ground. Pull up and back gently on your big toe. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds.
Bent knee stretch – Brace your palms on a wall and set one foot a few inches behind the other. Bend both knees and lean forward slightly, keeping your heels planted on the ground and your back straight. Hold this for roughly 15 seconds.
Heel to wall – Stand an arm’s length away from a wall and put your foot against it at about knee height. Slowly press that heel toward the wall without leaning forward. Hold for 10 seconds before relaxing and repeating.
Towel pull – Sit on a flat surface with your legs out in front of you. Loop an exercise band or a towel around the ball of one foot. Flex that foot, then slowly pull back on the ends of the band. Hold for 10 seconds.
Heel drops – Stand on a step with your heels hanging off the edge. Let your heels lower down until you feel the pull in your tight Achilles tendon, then return to neutral and repeat.
Your Achilles is so important for normal walking and running. If it’s tight and painful, don’t just hope it goes away. Try stretching and contacting Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC for help. We’ll take care of all your Achilles issues. Use the website or call our Metairie office at (504) 708-4810 to make an appointment.