Most people who go from conventional running shoes to barefoot or minimalist footwear, will at some point, feel their calves; and some will feel them rather a lot. A couple of factors cause this:
• Increased heel drop: Conventional shoes normally raise your heel 15-22mm relative to the ball of the foot. This lets you get away with (and possibly even encourages) stiff ankle joints and tight calf muscles.
• Impact: Moving away from heel-strike towards a fore/mid foot landing results in relatively more work from your calf (rather than shin and knee)
So now your calves are required to lengthen more and work harder than they ever have. A little tape often helps whilst the muscles get used to their new role.
Calf Muscle Tapes
Our aim here is produce a ‘lift’ to the interface between the two calf muscles. All the follow tape applications should be applied with the calf area on a stretch (feet and toes pulled up).
Option 1: Cut tape into a Y-shape, apply uncut base just above where the Achilles becomes a cord. While stretching the Achilles, lay each tail of tape with paper-off stretch over the border of gastroc (main calf muscle) and soleus (deep calf muscle) As shown in below.
Achilles Tendon Tape
Option 1: Take a strip and start it under the foot, on the heel pad. Stretch the calf by pulling toes and foot up towards knee. Stick tape straight up over Achilles tendon with 30-60% stretch. Apply the end of the tape with no stretch. Stick a second short strip of tape and apply over sorest spot with 50%+ stretch. This application is great for those with chunky, thick tendons.
Option 2: Apply middle of tape first, just in front of heel on sole of foot. Apply tape with 25-50% stretch diagonally over Achilles tendon. Lay rest of strip with 25% stretch over muscle belly. Tape should cross over point of maximum pain.
NB: Remember to apply ends of tape with 0% stretch and rub all over tape to activate glue.
‘Get yer toes up’
Another common region for problems is the front of the ankle/shin. Moving from supportive shoes to minimalist shoes/barefoot will commonly require more bend at the ankle (dorsi flexion) and more activity in the muscles that pull up the foot and toes. The taping below is great for assisting movement and delaying fatigue in this area.
• Start with toes curled down and ankle at 90°
• Stick base of tape on top of the foot, behind the toes that want the most help.
• Peel off most of the backing paper and stretch tape 50-80%.
• Stick the other end of the tape to the front of the shin, just below the knee (this can be moved in a bit for medial shin pain or out for outer shin pain)
• Now stretch out the front of the ankle (planter flex) as you stick the middle part of the tape