How to assess run-specific calf length and ankle mobility


How to test:

Having adequate mobility of the ankle joint AND the associated flexibility of all of the muscles in the lower leg is often a big challenge for the runner!


Distance running can cause these muscles to become tighter and shorter as the miles and years add up. That’s because the calf muscles are obviously very active in running – they’re active during every phase of the stride to either power us forward OR help resist the forces like gravity and ground reaction that are beating us down.

If you lose mobility of the ankle due to excess shortness of the calf muscles, you could end up with some compensation and dysfunction in your foot mechanics – your heel lifting too soon as you go through the gait cycle, or your foot toeing in or toeing out. Any of this would result in one part of the foot or leg being asked to do a job it isn’t designed to do. What results? Achilles tendonitis, foot or ankle pain, overuse of the peroneal tendons which run behind the ankle, and on and on!

As you know, in order to run fast and remain injury free, every part of the body needs to do its job. That’s never more true than when it comes to our legs and feet!

How to know if you have enough length? Check out the video and follow the guidance.

A portion of the 30-minute “Follow Along with Coach Al” video series (also found in the Performance Portal) is focused on stretching out the calf muscles in three different positions.