Bad legs?…not by a long stretch

Everyone seems to get sore calves when they start running barefoot. And, I’ve heard some reports of people ramping up too quickly and straining Achilles’ tendons. However, I seem to be having fewer issues than others. I think it’s because I’ve been regularly stretching for the last 6 months.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doc or a PT so in no position to give advice, but I will share what’s working for me. Margit Svanes of Lexington Rehabilitation is a physical therapist. In my book, she’s also a magician and a Godsend. On more than one occasion when the doctors said I should stop running, she put me back together. Here are stretches she recommended to me:

For the first type of stretch, push the wall with feet in line and perpendicular to the wall, and stretch the back leg. The second type is the same, except you angle the back foot in about 15 degrees (pigeon-toed). For the third, angle the back foot out (duck foot).

For the last stretch type, you sit your weight back over the rear leg and press down with the knee and heel.

Stretch before and after running, or twice a day when not running. Repeat each type 3 times for each leg. Hold each stretch for about 7 seconds, and afterwards relax the leg completely for about 7 seconds. Work’s great for me.

Explore posts in the same categories: Barefoot Running, Experience


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3 Comments on “Bad legs?…not by a long stretch”

  1. Phil Odence Says:

    I should note, if you do the math this all works out to about 6 minutes of stretching before and after which will add 12 minutes to your run. That’s a fair amount of overhead. By alternating legs on stretches (thus letting one leg recover while the other stretches) and occasionally cutting back to 2 of each per leg rather than 3, I’ve probably got it down to about 3 minutes before and after. But, for me it has been worth diligence at the outset.

  2. Nisar Says:

    Interesting blog. I had hurt myself pretty bad due to lack of stretching. Forget running, I could barely walk for a few days 🙂 Since then I have been pretty diligent myself about stretching before and after running. Your blog provides some interesting variations to the basic wall stretches I do. Will try them out the next time. Also like the idea of stretching on the days I don’t run.
    I have been considering barefoot running as well. I would be worried about cutting myself too if I ran completely barefoot. Have you looked into Vibram FiveFingers? Seems like a good compromise between barefoot running and having some protection


    • Phil Odence Says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Yes, I am very aware of VFFs. If you check out you can see some other shoes I’ve been looking at as well. There are some VFFs in the mail aimed my way, so I am interested to try.
      There is some to controversy about how “barefoot” even the VFFs are. Many barefoot runners will tell you to start purely barefoot to get your form right before going to minimalist shoes. Everyone tells you to work up to it slowly. See my next post about what happens when you don’t heed that advice.

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