This Sunday is the first time since I was in university that I didn't run in the Melbourne Marathon. The reason that I didn't is because I was working with some other SYSSM practitioners on the elite runners as they crossed the finish line, which was a great experience, but I was definitely jealous of the 30,000 runners that did compete this year.
Of all the elite runners that we treated on Sunday morning, and all the amateur runners I've treated on Monday and Tuesday, ALL of them had tight calves.
Coaches and trainers will often speak about quad-dominant runners, hamstring-dominant runners, and glute-dominant runners, but all runners are calf-dominant. All runners need to stretch their calves before, after, and in-between runs if they want to avoid some nasty injuries.
The first year that I ran in the Melbourne Marathon, I didn't stretch my calves. I developed shin splints, and it took 6 months before I could run pain-free again.
A patient of mine tore his calf doing the New York Marathon because he hadn't stretched enough through his training. That ended his running season entirely.
Another patient damaged his Achilles tendon doing 10km runs because he didn't think 10km was long enough to bother stretching after. That took months to repair.
These injuries and other can all be avoided by doing a simple calf stretch before running, after running, and twice daily in-between running.
Not sure how to stretch your calves effectively? Try these 2 simple calf stretches
For more runner-specific information on injury management and prevention, check out the Recover Rebuild Run workshop that SYSSM is putting-on this November. To book your place, call (03) 9826 2122 or contact SYSSM on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Mitch Clark