I have had a few discussions in the last week with people who have had recent issues with either a calf or achilles strain / pain during or after workouts. I want to share some of the ideas that I have been discussing.
1) Stop the aggravating activity – these probably include running, box jumps, or jump roping. We can find substitution exercises for everything – rowing, step ups, air squats for example would be good subs for these activities.
2) Start mobilizing your calf and achilles. At a minimum, you should be rolling your calf and achilles on a barbell or foam roller for at least 2 minutes 5 days per week (hopefully 7 days) and you should be stretching. For stretches, I like dropping a heel off a step or putting a toe up on a wall and holding for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
3) You probably need to mobilize up and down your leg as well. Quads, hamstrings, inner thigh, glutes, hip flexors all need to be stretched and or rolled. You should also think about rolling the bottom of your foot with a lacrosse ball.
4) Before you return to aggravating activities, slowly progress through the following exercises as a warm up. You should be able to perform at least 20 reps without any pain before progressing.
-Double leg heel raises
-Double leg heel raises to lowering with your injured leg
-Single leg heel raises
-Gentle jog in place progressing to a run in place
-Slow jogging progressing to running
-Single unders to double unders to single leg jump roping
-Box jumps, stepping down (start with a low box or plate)
-Box jumps, jumping down (start with a low box or plate)
5) Ice you calf / achilles if you have any hint of pain / discomfort. Continue to ice at least 3x per day for at least 24 hours after any incident of pain or discomfort.