So important is the Achilles stretch that some coaches believe that not performing it regularly is a recipe for almost certain injury.
Despite this, many people don't perform the Achilles stretch regularly, or if they do use it, do it intermittently or at the wrong time. We'll therefore discuss not only how to perform the Achilles stretch, but also how often and when you should do it.
Actually performing this movement is simple:
- Begin by standing at arm's-length from a wall or doorway (or anything you can lean against)
- Lean into wall, bracing yourself with your arms.
- Your front leg is relaxed, knee bent, with little weight on it.
- Bend your back leg so that you feel the tightness in the lower leg, around the heel.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then relax.
- Repeat twice for each leg.
So when should you do this? You'll see many people, especially runners, doing this before a workout. However, research has indicated that this is counterproductive, and can actually increase the risk of injury.
The best time to do static flexibility work of this nature is after a workout, as a part of your cool-down. Performing movements like this on a daily basis will gradually increase your range of motion, reducing your risk of injury and improving your athletic performance.