So what is the best way to decrease the pain of Sever’s disease? To relieve the pain immediately, you want to give your athlete arch support, but in the long run, you’re going to want to take the pressure of the growth plate in the heel by stretching the calf muscles. Don’t forget, protecting the arches relieves the pain of Sever’s, but it also prevents many other issues as well, so if your having Sever’s, most likely your arches aren’t supporting enough and The X Brace will be a great long term solution.
But stretching the calf muscles is even more important than just relieving Sever’s Disease pain. A study was released in 2011 that concluded many of the overuse knee injuries can be caused by calf muscles that are too tight, not allowing the foot to flex properly when landing!
So there are two main muscles composing the “calf muscles.” The gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. Booth of these muscles are critical for athlete function. Here is a short description of what these muscles do:
The gastroc, for short, is responsible for the pretty toe point found in dancing, gymnastics, and cheerleading. This muscle is active at plantar flexion (toe point) when the knee is straight. The brain subconsciously finds the gastroc very aesthetically pleasing when viewed. Meaning, when you see a female with well-defined gastroc muscles, you will subconsciously acknowledge the beauty of her legs. It’s one of the reasons why athletes in cheer, dance and gymnastics point their toes. It gives them the appearance of very long legs, increasing the beauty of their movement. The opposite is also true. When you see an athlete not keep her legs straight, the movement looks awkward and the long lines are lost because the gastroc is no longer fully flexed.
This muscle is definitely the opposite of the gastroc! My college basketball coach always said, the gastroc is for show, and the soleus for go! And that’s a great description of the soleus. It plantar flexes or toe points when the knee is bent. It’s not an attractive muscle, but it creates enormous amounts of power when the knee is bent. It’s also a muscle that’s forgotten about in lower levels of gymnastics, cheer and dance. In order to maintain releve when the knees are bent, the soleus must be strong and responsive.
To stretch the gastrocnemius muscle, stand on a stair with the ball of your foot on the stair and your heel off. Allow your heel to drop off of the stair, not forcing it, but allowing gravity to gently stretch your muscle. Hold for 30 seconds each leg.
To stretch the soleus muscle, bend the knee and drop into the stretch with your body. Once again, do not force the stretch, but rather allow gravity to gently stretch your muscle. Many times this stretch will be felt in your Achilles tendon or even in your ankle.
To have an impact on tight muscles, continue with these stretches every day for at least 30 days. Make sure to stretch your calf muscles after practice every time!
Share with us in the comment section below how you take care of your muscles in the gym. We love to hear your comments and questions!
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