Time for our Workout Of The Month. Each month we take a look at a different exercise and break it down by movement, how to do it, and discuss some of the positive versus negative impact that it can have to you and your level of fitness. Some workout’s of the month breakdown how to do a common exercise, others feature a specific workout. This month I want to talk about an incredibly simple exercise but one that packs huge benefits to the rest of your legs and feet: heel walks.
The Health Benefits Of Heel Walks
Heel walks are an incredible simple yet beneficial exercise. The exercise is done exactly how it sounds: by walking on the ball of your heels. A more simple version of the exercise can be done by standing in place on your heels starting on both legs and then for an additional challenge, one leg. Heel walks are great at strengthening weak muscles on the front of our shins, preventing and reducing shin splints, and strengthening the muscles that support the ankle.
Why Heel Walks Are Important
To understand why heel walks are important, it helps to understand the mechanics on why this muscle is often weak in most people. The muscle that runs down the front of the shin is known as the tibialis anterior. This muscle helps to point your toes and ankle towards your face. This specific movement of moving your ankle and toes towards your face is known as dorsi flexion. Pointing your toes and ankle away form your face is known as plantar flexion. Plantar flexion in the ankles is a movement most of us do while walking and it’s a dominant movement.
With plantar flexion in our ankles and calf being a predominant movement, it makes the muscles on the back of our calf much stronger than the muscles on the front of the lower leg. With the stronger muscles comes muscle imbalances, increased ankle injuries, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints. Strengthening the front side of the calf by doing heel walks or reverse calf raises can be an important part of reducing and preventing injuries of the lower legs.
How To Do Heel Walks
- Using one leg, stand on the heel of your foot and balance your body weight on your heel for as long as you can. Most people have weak anterior calf muscles. So, the longer you can do this exercise the better strength you’re building up. Balancing also helps to strengthen your intramuscular connections that connect from the muscles to the brain.
- Musing both legs, walk on the heels of your legs.
Both of these exercises are incredibly simple to do. But, it’s the simple things that are easy to do but also easy not to do. These are actually two incredibly simple exercises to do around the house. For example, try walking around on your heels when doing errands around the house. Or every five minutes, take a moment to stand on your heel for as long as you can while you’re watching something on Netflix or Hulu.
Summing Up Heel Walks
Heel walking can provide several different kinetic benefits. Strengthening the tibialis anterior can help to correct muscle imbalances, strengthen your ankle, prevent and reduce shin splint pain, and even help prevent and reduce plantar fasciitis.