The Achilles Tendon is often overlooked during a stretching regimen. Did you know that the achilles is the longest tendon in the body, measuring 6 inches in length, and that incorporating a regular achilles stretching routine into your fitness regimen could significantly help to improve your lower leg strength and overall health? I’m going to share some simple stretches and tell you a little about some of the benefits of stretching your achilles, and after reading, I hope you will stretch them regularly!
Why stretch your achilles?
- Improve lower leg flexibility
- Improve leg circulation
- Prevent/reduce chance of injury
Before beginning your stretches, it is important to warm up. You never want to stretch “cold” muscles or tendons. To warm up you can jog in place, jump rope or do some good old fashioned jumping jacks for a few minutes.
Stair Case Stretch: Stand on a step with your feet together. The toes and balls of your feet should be on the step but your heels should overhang the step. Be sure you are supporting yourself with one hand on a railing or wall. Slowly lift up and down on your toes ten times. Repeat three sets of ten lifts. This exercise helps to strengthen your feet and heels, preventing and healing Plantar Fasciitis.
The Wall Stretch: Stand facing a wall with both feet together. Place your hands at shoulder height and width on the wall in front of you. Take a step forward with your right foot so that it is now only a few inches from the wall. Shift your weight onto your right leg and bend at the knee. Keeping both heels on the ground, lean your upper body slowly toward the wall until you feel a good stretch happening along the calf muscles of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to your original position with both feet together. Repeat the stretch, this time putting your left leg forward. Do this exercise three times on each foot.
Toe To Wall Stretch: To begin this stretch, the heel should be on the ground and the toes on the wall. Place the opposite foot behind you. Keep the legs straight and move the entire body forward. Do not move your upper body forward and stick your backside out. You should feel a very strong stretch in the back of the calf and some stretch in the arch. To increase the stretch, move your heel closer to the wall and increase the angle of your foot. To decrease the stretch, move your heel back and lower your toes. Hold for 60 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Calf-Plantar Fascia Stretch: Sitting on the floor in an upright positing with good posture with both legs in front of you, take a towel or a band and loop it around the upper half of one foot. Slowly pull the towel toward you to extend the Achilles tendon and calf. Stretch and hold for about 20 seconds and then repeat on the alternate leg/foot. Do 3 sets on each side.