PODIATRY AT THE GYM- CALF RAISES

Feet and legs form the foundations of the human body. So we podiatrists are pretty important people haha!

The feet are the first and only point of contact with the ground and are what keep us walking, running, jumping and landing. One of the main exercises we tend to prescribe to people is a simple calf raise, both seated and standing.

The calves are built to withstand enormous load. They are strong and the thick achilles tendon produces incredible power during short efforts.

There are a few reasons why we LOVE to prescribe this exercise. A calf raise done correctly has the ability to aid in the rehabilitation of muscular conditions such as achilles tendinopathy, Tibialis posterior tendon, plantar fasciitis and even chronic sprained ankles. But most importantly, they should be part of any program as a means of PRE-habilitation or injury prevention.

There are a few keys to good calf raise technique.

  • Firstly, you want to make sure you do these both seated and standing, as you slightly change the predominant working muscle with each (Gastrocnemius standing with straight knees using a Smith Machine, and Soleus when seated with knees bent).
  • Whether you start with resistance bands, weight bearing, double leg or single leg depends on your stage of injury and you need to be guided by your PODIATRIST. 
  • You need to ensure you do it at a slow tempo, the longer the time under tension, the more beneficial. 
  • Over time, this should progress to more explosive movements- because we rarely use our calves in a slow controlled motion. For example sprinting and jumping, so rehab NEEDS to include this.
  • Don’t over do it. – This is where it is crucial to work with your PODIATRIST to first gauge your capacity and provide you with an ENTRY point that will give you PROGRESS, without setting you back 

LOADING PRINCIPLES

I want to discuss some ways to manage training load and some training principles which are necessary for progression in any exercise.

Firstly, we need to be ensuring the exercises you are doing are specific to your sport or activity or goal. 

Next, we want to make sure you are progressively overloading a particular muscle or movement. When we progressively overload, we are putting our body or muscle under additional stress, which leads to changes and ADAPTATIONS to manage these new loads. We can increase loads in a few ways; 

  • change or increase the frequency of training, 
  • increase the LOAD when pain and capacity allow 
  • increase the length of time you are training each day 
  • change the type of training, eg. ISOMETRIC, ISOTONIC OR PLYOMETRIC

The third main principle is REVERSIBILITY, if you stop all together you will go backwards. CONSISTENCY IS KEY! The rehabilitation of these injuries takes TIME. Avoiding the necessary exercises can lead to a symptom or condition actually getting worse. We like to use the phrase “use it, or lose it”. This basically means if you stop using a body part or muscle, it will go right back to how it started. If you are a regular gym or fitness person, then you definitely understand what I’m talking about! 

As you can see there is a bit to know when it comes to Podiatry in the gym, or just training in general! If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all this info, then come talk to us! We will talk you through each step, ensure you understand and get you well on your way to being 100% confident on your feet!

Matt- Podiatrist

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