Secrets and Staples: Calve Stretching Secret

The slant board calve stretch is the most effective way that I have found to have clients add some length to this often shortened structure. I like to use multiple techniques, but will review the static stretch for the calves in today’s post. This can be an effective corrective exercise technique for those who demonstrate reduced dorsiflexion. I may use an over-head squat, active range of motion test or goniometry to assess motion at the ankle. If there is muscular tightness,  then more often than not I will recommend this technique early on in their programming.

Goniometry Ankle Dorsiflexion

Staples to keep in mind for the corrective exercise specialist or personal trainer:
make sure the slant board is set at the proper angle. If a client has only six degrees of dorsiflexion, don’t set the slant board at a 15 degree angle or you will only further exacerbate the impairment.
make sure the slant board is the proper distance away from a wall or supporting structure for client comfort, control and consistency.
check for good alignment throughout the rest of the kinetic chain. Even the head and neck. 
walk around your client to see the big picture and get in close to check the little details, especially around the lower extremity.
 (get it?)
have the client only stretch one side at a time to maximize the load going into the calve complex and account for asymmetries.
Here are the key cues for clients:
heel down
toes straight
quads engaged
squeeze glutes
align ear-shoulder hip-knee-ankle
Once they have the basics, check to make sure that the arch of the foot is neutral. You can manipulate the arch of the foot with supportive footwear, a rolled up face cloth etc., and by supinating the foot using the gluteal complex. I will have a video out on this soon.
Pronation is a total body movement and if the arch of the foot is collapsing, we need to make sure the related joints are mobile and the associated muscles are providing dynamic stability. Don’t get lost in the intrinsic musculature of the foot. That’s why it is so important to see the big picture and monitor the entire kinetic chain.
Thanks for reading,
Eric
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