General Description & Considerations before Elevating the Heel
This is my view and I don't have any medical training-
I don't understand the pronation issue.
General Description Related to Calf Stress - Basically the plantar fascia, on the bottom of the foot, connects to the heel bone. The Achilles Tendon attaches to the back side of the heel bone. Both the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus come together at the Achilles Tendon. The Gastrocnemius originates above the knee so that the angle of the knee joint has a large effect on its length and degree of stretch. The Soleus originates below the knee so the the angle of the knee joint does not affect the length and stretch of the Soleus. When you stretch your 'calves' you have to stretch both muscles using separate stretches - a straight-knee stretch for both the Gastrocnemius and perhaps the Soleus and a bent-knee stretch to make sure that the Soleus is stretched. I've posted before on TW with the details on both stretches.
Which calf muscle is stressed by tennis, the Gastrocnemius or the Soleus? I don't know, but I read somewhere that usually the Gastrocnemius is injured in tennis calf injuries. This is an important point to research. See also 'Tennis Leg'. Ask your Dr which muscle is injured. Also, the Achilles is a long tendon so make sure that the upper part of the Achilles is not what is injured.
Tight/short calves are usually considered a possible cause of injuries to the linked chain consisting of the plantar fascia + Achilles Tendon + Gastroc. and/or Soleus.
My opinion on elevating the heel - One obvious way to compensate for shortened tight calves and thereby lessen the stress on this chain is to elevate the heel, say, with heel pads or shoe design. This increases the angle between the foot and shin and allows the calves to be at a shortened length. High heel shoes are an extreme heel elevation. they probably also contribute to shortened calves. Putting pads in shoes or selecting shoes that have elevated heels seems to me very questionable, a compensation for calves that are too short.
It seems a better approach to examine your lifestyle for why your calves might be tight ( how do you sit? etc.) and also to stretch the calves once you are over the injury. You may also have had past running injuries that have affected your calf muscles. ?
Of course, these are very complex issues involving overall posture and require a Dr specializing in the foot and related issues.
Last edited by Chas Tennis : 03-28-2013 at 04:11 PM.