The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It’s the largest and strongest one in the body, but it’s also most prone to injury since it moves in multiple planes, explains Marion Parke, DPM, luxury footwear designer and former podiatric surgeon in Minneapolis.
Since the tendon stays in a shortened position overnight, ankle mobility is limited in the morning. If you wake up and immediately go for a run, the sudden lengthening can cause aches and tears, Parke explains.
She recommends performing the standing calf stretch first to gradually elongate the tendon and prep it for movement. To do it, brace your hands against a wall and step one foot back, with back leg straight, front leg bent, and toes pointing forward. Lean into the wall and press the back heel into the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Complete 3 rounds.
The bottom line:
Do this stretch daily—in the morning or as part of your warm-up—to prevent injury and pain, especially if you have a history of Achilles problems or plantar fasciitis, Parke says.