The calf complex is an area commonly injured in athletes of all running sports, not just endurance sports.
Broadly speaking, one muscular imbalance which will often predispose an athlete to calf injury is weakness and lack of local muscular endurance in Gastrocnemius, the main “meaty” muscle of the calf complex.
The video above shows a simple exercise which Physiotherapists at London Irish Rugby Club uses to both evaluate and train strength and local muscular endurance in the calf muscles of their Professional Rugby Players.
While this is obviously something we picked up from the world of rugby, it’s incredibly applicable to all running sports.
Calf Strength Endurance Testing
I understand that the baseline score they require their players to achieve in pre-season is 300 reps (yes 300, try it!) – without heels touching down. If a player fails this baseline, they are put on a specific strengthening protocol to help mitigate this injury risk factor.
Building Calf Strength Endurance
Try adding 3 sets of 2 mins performing this “Ankling Drill” as part of your running strength routine.
An Added Bonus…
In addition to being a great calf strengthening drill. The lifting component of the exercise, pulling the foot actively up into dorsiflexion (pulling toes up towards shin) develops strength in Tibialis Anterior – another big player in lower leg muscular imbalances.