LEVEL UP - PART 1 | SINGLE LEG HEEL RAISE
This simple test and conditioning drill can help highlight asymmetry and potentially reduce the risk of lower leg injuries across the spectrum of ages and abilities.
The single-leg heel raise exercise can be used to improve coordination and the strength of your Calf muscles, primarily, the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles. Muscle strengthening and coordination improves balance and stability, which makes the ankles more resistant to some types of injury. Testing one limb against the other can offer insight into asymmetry or highlight relative weakness which may contribute to current or future injuries and if addressed offer potential performance gains.
Running, jumping and changing direction produce high ground reaction forces. Exercises such as the single-leg heel raise, when repeated consistently, can increase the ability to cope with these forces.
Strength training improves the capacity and endurance of the muscle and tendons - in this case, the lower leg muscles. Over time with consistency, and sufficient loading, training can affect the size and capacity of these muscles, including fascicle length and the overall muscle architecture enabling greater force production and the ability to repeatedly produce this force. The single leg heel raise can be simply regressed to a double leg version, progressed by adding weight or by adjusting other variables like speed and volume.
Single-leg heel raises are simple to test and use as a conditioning drill. They work well with people of all ages and don’t require any specialist equipment. We recommend the use of a metronome to move in time with, increasing reliability and repeatability of the test. How much and how often depends on a number of other factors (such as strength level, recovery status, other training load, prior history) but we suggest aiming for somewhere around 2-3x per week, completing 3-5 sets and working towards fatigue (2-3 reps in reserve). This can be incorporated into warm ups,key moments in your day like brushing your teeth! Or other sessions for time efficiency. Of course, you can adjust the volume and intensity as necessary. With this in mind, it can be really useful to seek advice from a medical or health and fitness professional such as a Physiotherapist, in fact we highly recommend this in the presence of injury - PM us as we probably know one in your area!
It's important to note that injury, and injury prevention, are multifactorial and complex. Single-leg heel raises can be a useful test and tool and should be used in conjunction with other strength and conditioning drills with other factors such as appropriate training, nutrition and recovery playing hugely important roles.