Many runners say fall is their favorite season -- cool weather, colorful leaves, and lots of race events. I’m here to show you two exercises for your calves that will help you run through this season. These exercises can be done after a run and on rest days. This blog post is part of a series of posts covering Pilates exercises for runners. If you missed the first post, be sure to check it out here: http://www.restore353therapies.com/blog/2016/9/8/pilates-for- the-runner- 4-exercises-for- your-feet
For the following exercises, you will need (1) a small ball (ideally a pinky ball, though a tennis ball or smaller ball with plasticity will also work) and (2) a resistance band.
1. Calf Stretch Variations
I’ll show you some variations on the classic. Remember that form is important here. All you need is a wall to press against. Start standing, facing into the wall. Place your hands on the wall. Step the right foot back into a lunge as the left knee bends. Adjust the position of your feet as needed, so your left knee can stay over the ankle (and not jutting out over the toes). Make sure both feet are parallel, especially the back foot (the right foot). Get your hips as even as you can. Keep your back heel grounded throughout this stretch. On the back foot, try to keep even pressure into the floor at these four points: (1) inner heel, (2) outer heel, (3) ball of the foot on the big toe side, and (4) ball of the foot on the pinky toe side. Hold this stretch for five deep breaths. Now, keeping the back heel down and without letting the hips move forward, put more downward pressure into the ball of the back foot. Hold this downward pressure for 5 seconds, then release, allowing the calf to stretch. On your next exhale, wrap the lower abdominals in, bend the front knee a little deeper and let the hip bones come a little closer towards the wall, still keeping the back heel down. Next, still in your stretch position, bend the back knee half an inch and then straighten the knee. Do eight repetitions, keeping the back heel down. Keep the hips still throughout the movement. Repeat the series on the other leg. If one calf feels tighter, do two sets on that leg.
VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353
2. Calf Release with Resistance Band and Ball
Start kneeling. Place the ball in the middle of the resistance band and fold the band in half, so the ball is now in the crease of the fold. Place the ball-end of the band on your upper right calf, just below the crease of your knee and slightly off-center towards the right. Grab the ends of the band with your left hand. Sit your seat back towards your heels, until you feel the pressure of the ball. The pressure should be fairly intense, but not unbearable. Hold the position and breathe three deep breaths. Move the ball a couple of inches down the calf, sit back towards your heels, and repeat the breathing. Continue, moving the ball down a few inches at a time, stopping just above your ankle.
VIDEO CREDIT: Restore353
Repeat on the other calf.
If you have any questions or want me to cover other running-related topics, please leave a comment below. Happy Running!