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Gastrocnemius and soleus self-administered static release technique
Continuing Education1 Credit

Plantar Flexor: Release and Lengthening

Knowing ankle plantar flexion release and lengthening techniques can reduce ankle pain, Achille’s tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, etc., and improve fitness performance.

Course Description: Plantar Flexor and Evertor Release and Lengthening

This course describes ankle plantar flexor release and lengthening. Unfortunately, these techniques have been referred to by a dizzying array of terms, including ankle mobility exercises, ankle flexibility exercises, ankle mobility techniques, plantar flexor foam rolling, myofascial release, self-myofascial release, calf foam rolling, plantar flexor release with a ball, crural fascia release, plantar flexor stretching, and/or calf stretching.

Although it is common to hear terms like tight muscles, muscle tightness, tight plantar fascia, Achilles tendon tightness, short Achilles tendon, calf muscle tightness, etc., fascia and tendons do not adaptively shorten in most individuals, and it is more accurate to label the muscles (not fascia) as prone to over-activity (e.g. hypertonic, phasic, increased muscle stiffness). Even pain resulting from plantar fasciitis is not due to a "tight plantar fascia", the term plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of this fascial structure. However, it is often the case that reducing muscle stiffness with a nonsurgical intervention like plantar flexor release can have a positive influence by reducing the stress on the plantar fascia, and can significantly reduce the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Performing plantar flexor release and lengthening techniques to increase ankle mobility prior to activation, integration, and strengthening techniques may significantly enhance rehabilitation and performance programs. In practice, the release of the gastrocnemius, soleus, and fibularis muscles (peroneal muscles), mobilizing the ankle joint, and integrating a slant board calf stretch (gastrocnemius and soleus stretch), modified calf stretch (gastrocnemius, soleus, and fibularis stretch), and/or a dynamic calf and fibularis stretch, is likely to improve ankle mobility and improve the effectiveness of exercises like isolated tibialis anterior activation , toe raises, heel walks, and other dorsiflexion exercises, in addition to squatting, step-ups, lunges, deadlifts, etc.

Plantar flexor over-activity has been correlated with altered lower extremity alignment, pronation distortion, lower extremity dysfunction, an asymmetrical weight shift, knee bow in, knee bow out, excessive forward lean, feet flatten (pes planus or functional flat foot), and feet turn out. Additionally, plantar flexor-over-activity and a loss of dorsiflexion range of motion have been correlated with a loss of plantar flexor strength, loss of dorsiflexion strength, chronic ankle sprains, chronic ankle instability, Achille’s tendinopathy, chronic plantar fasciitis, heel pain, knee pain, low back pain, an increased risk of future ankle and low back injury, and a loss of sports performance. Sports medicine professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, etc.) should consider adding these exercises to their repertoire to improve the outcomes of their integrated exercise programs and therapeutic (rehabilitation) interventions.

Release Techniques

Joint Mobilization Techniques

Following release techniques, but before lengthening techniques, it may be beneficial to perform Self-administered Joint Mobilization Techniques: Lower Body

Lengthening Techniques

Gastrocnemius and soleus self-administered static release technique
Caption: Gastrocnemius and soleus self-administered static release technique

Introduction to Plantar flexor and Evertor Release & Lengthening

2 sub-categories

Research Corner: Plantar Flexor and Evertor Release

Release Techniques & Progressions for Plantar Flexor and Evertor Release

3 sub-categories

Lengthening Techniques & Progressions for Plantar Flexor and Evertor Release

5 sub-categories

Dynamic Stretching Series for Lower Leg Dysfunction

Sample Flexibility Program and Progression


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1. Introduction

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