FAQ – The Calf Stretching Protocol

I know about stretching. I stretch all the time.
  • Have you ever thought that your source of information might be incorrect?
  • Stretching, in general, is no doubt good and healthy for us in many ways.
  • What we are promoting is one simple stretch directed at the underlying cause of many foot and ankle problems, especially for runners; your calf, which is too tight. This is the kind of stretch you do not get from general stretching.
  • Currently, this information, and our philosophy is most definitely out there for everyone, but for many reasons it remains obscure; so many people are unaware including most of the medical profession, trainers, and physical therapists. They think they know this, but they don’t and they will say things are not this simple. I disagree.
But I run, cycle, hike; I exercise all the time. Why would I have to stretch my calves?
  • Exercise does not stretch your calves, unless the exercise is specifically directed at stretching the calf. In fact, more often than not, the most fit athletes have some of the tightest calves around.
  • Why do so many runners get plantar fasciitis? Plantar fasciitis does not develop because of heel spurs or “pounding the pavement”; it results from calves that become too tight over time, even if you are fit.
  • In fact, repetitive motions, such as running, promotes calf tightness, which is the opposite of one might think.
I stretch at the gym on a slant board or off of the treadmill. Should that be enough?
  • That is fantastic and you should continue and never stop.
  • Beyond all the advantages[link to advantages of OS] of the One Stretch, this is why the One Stretch is better:
    • You need to stretch your calves EVERYDAY. You don’t go to the gym everyday. The best way to ensure that you stretch everyday is to do it at home on your own One Stretch.
    • Evidence shows that static “warm up” stretching associated with fitness training, such as running or resistance training, can result in a 3-8% reduction in strength or ballistic, explosive power. There is some evidence that the injury rate in sports is higher when preceded by static warm-up stretching. Knowing this, static stretching before sport or resistance training makes less sense, so we recommend stretching at a different time of the day not related to exercise.
    • The One Stretch will give you the absolute best passive static stretch of your calves you can get! All you have to do is try it one time and you will be hooked.
I stretch my calves before I run to warm up. Isn’t this good enough?
  • That will only take an already tight calf and loosen it just a bit and it can cause loss of power. It has also been suggested, but not convincingly demonstrated to increase injury.
  • Wouldn’t it be better to just be at the length you were intended to have? You can only accomplish this by stretching everyday.
  • Wouldn’t it be cool to step out your front door and go out for a run without stretching? You could if you stretch your calves (& hamstrings, and any other muscle groups that might hound you) everyday. You would be ready, right now!
My calves are just fine and have never given me a problem so what does the pain in my foot/heel have to do with my calves?
  • The calves tighten “silently” in most of us, so you would not be aware there is a problem.
  • As a result, the damage that the calves produce in the foot & ankle presses on incrementally, and unchecked until you become aware of it because of pain and loss of quality of life as a result. Refer to the blog article “The Split Second Effect”.
  • Stretching your calves on the One Stretch gives us a bonafide opportunity to practice what we all talk about and preach: PREVENTION! What a novel thought.
I read on the Internet about stretching and I stretched as instructed faithfully for a few weeks and it did not work. What makes this calf-stretching protocol different?
  • Here are the problems with other stretching methods or protocols promoted elsewhere, including the internet (try not to pay attention that you are reading this on the internet):
    • These methods of stretching give at best a poor stretch. A relaxed, prolonged passive stretch is what it takes to get results. Anything else is a waste of time.
    • The protocol you used is likely incorrect. The stretching times are inadequate and often vague. How often, how long, how many times per day? It has been well shown in randomized trials that 3 minutes 3 times everyday works best.
    • Six weeks, even if you are stretching on the One Stretch, might not be enough time. It takes time to stretch a muscle that has been tight for many years. Failure to stretch for long enough time period is probably the number one reason for those who “fail”. They think a few weeks is good enough and they quit in disgust. Good things don’t come easily or quickly.
    • Another significant problem is that these other recommendations to stretch calves are always mixed in with “other treatments” to do. While these “other treatments” are not bad, they just confuse things and dilute your efforts to stretch, which is the one thing you need to do. Calf stretching is definitive treatment all by its self. See What Lonnie Soloff taught me. Link to blog lonnie Soloff
    • They will recommend several ways to stretch. Which one, two, or three methods do you choose? It is more effective and easier to comply if you limit it to just ONE STRETCH.
I already wear orthotics because I was told it’s the right answer for Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Orthotics have never been shown to resolve PF. But if they are helping you that is good, but they absolutely do not address the underlying problem, your tight calf.
  • If you consult a majority of people who obtain orthotics, especially the custom hard or rigid orthotics, they most often end up removing them within weeks because they hurt or do not help.
  • If you must try orthotics, try over the counter (OTC) orthotics, like Superfeet or Powerstep. $40 is a lot better than $300 plus. And they are usually better tolerated.
I have been on the One Stretch just a few days and my pain has gotten worse?
  • Good! That means you are actually using it.Usually this pain is a sign that you are doing the right thing. You wouldn’t question muscle soreness after going to the fitness center. Both are almost always temporary. However, in a few cases this could be a sign that you are stretching too hard. If you think this is a possibility, just move back a number and lower your stretch intensity until you feel comfortable.
I tried to stretch and it made me hurt in another place.
  • NO doubt calf stretching can cause your pain to get a bit worse because you are stressing the system.
  • It is usually a bump in the road on your way to getting better. Think of it as resistance training and getting sore muscles as a result. You wouldn’t question that this is a good thing.
  • If the pain is significant you are probably trying to stretch too hard, too much intensity. Try backing off on the intensity. If it persists consult your doctor.
I don’t have start up pain. I am certain I do not have plantar fasciitis.
  • This can definitely happen and you might not have PF.
  • We have found that a small percentage of people with PF are atypical and don’t experience the start up issues. They might be the more athletic and compensate so quickly and effectively that they don’t experience the typical start up symptoms.
I got new running shoes! Meaning I have done what is supposed to be done.
  • New fresh, running shoes are always a good thing.
  • Running shoes might help the symptoms, but they would never solve the problem.
  • There is no substitute for calf stretching!
I have flat feet! I have been told they are my problem.
  • Of all the people who should stretch, it is you!!!
  • Tight calves force the arch to depress deeper with standing and at mid stance with each step, no matter what you are wearing. See “Split Second Effect” [link to blog post]
I take anti-inflammatories and they help. Shouldn’t that be enough?

You are treating the end result, the symptoms. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if it helps. However, your inflammation stems from a mechanical cause and the anti-inflammatories will not help that. Treat the mechanical problem (tight calves) and the inflammatory issue or component (your pain) will ultimately take care of itself.

I have been told I have a heel spur. How is stretching going to help solve pain from a heel spur?
  • Heel spurs on the bottom of the heel have never been shown to cause heel pain.
  • The heel spur is actually a visible “scar” seen on X-ray where the inflammation trying to heal the microscopic tears in your plantar fascia has produced bone by a process called dystrophic calcification. Dystrophic calcification is a “bone or calcification” response where we would normally form scar tissue, which is clear on x-ray.
  • The microscopic tears are a result of over pull on the planar fascia from its anchor on the heel bone or calcaneus. This over pull is a result of the fact that the calf, Achilles, the calcaneus, and the plantar fasciitis are all part of a chain, of which the calf is the driving force, and the plantar fascial attachment is usually the weakest link. [Link to my Heal pain video]