Stiff, tight calves? Two tests to assess

assessment running Mar 20, 2024

😖Stiff, tight calves? Here are a couple of tests that we use to assess calf flexibility & how we use them.

📏🦵First up, we have the Weight-bearing lunge test, also known as the knee-to-wall test. With the toes facing straight forward, drive the knee as far forward as possible, ensuring the heel remains flat on the ground. Measure the distance that the knee travels over the toes & compare it to the other side. You can also use an inclinometer on the shin to measure.

📏📐 Then we have the same test with the knee straight. Again with the toes forward, lunge as far forward as you can, keeping the heel flat on the floor. Measure the angle of the shin with an inclinometer, as we are using here in the Measurz app.

🎯What is normal?

On both versions, we want to see the shin angle exceed 40 degrees and be within 10% symmetry. With the knee bent, we want to see upwards of 8-9 cm be attained.

 🔍Using these tests

If we find both variations are restricted, we may be dealing with ankle joint involvement with or without calf flexibility issues.

⬇️ If there is a reduction of range on the knee straightened variation, it likely indicates an increase in tone in the gastrocnemius.

🤕 These tests are often reduced in those suffering an acute calf muscle strain, and we should see the normalization of these tests as they progress through rehab.

📈 They can also be useful as a monitoring tool to measure the response to training: it's not unusual for those who suffer a calf strain to be preceded by a period of increased tightness & reduction in flexibility.

💡 Remember from our previous posts that increased tightness doesn't always mean the need to stretch. It frequently indicates an inability of the calf to keep up with the demands of running, so changes in running load &/or strengthening are often indicated.

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