Why Eccentric Heel Raises Should Be a Part of Your Lower Body Workout
Eccentric heel raises are a type of exercise that involve slowly lowering your heels down from a raised position. This movement is a great way to strengthen your calf muscles, improve ankle mobility and stability, reduce the risk of Achilles tendon injuries, and enhance athletic performance. In this article, we will explore the benefits of eccentric heel raises and provide tips on how to properly incorporate them into your lower body workout routine.
Benefits of Eccentric Heel Raises
Strengthening the calf muscles
Eccentric heel raises are an effective way to target the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which make up the calf muscles. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that eccentric exercises like heel raises were more effective at activating the calf muscles compared to concentric exercises.
Improving ankle mobility and stability
Eccentric heel raises can help improve ankle mobility and stability by strengthening the muscles that support the ankle joint. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, eccentric exercises like heel raises can improve ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, which is important for activities like running and jumping.
Reducing the risk of Achilles tendon injuries
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is prone to injury, especially in athletes who participate in activities that involve jumping and running. Eccentric heel raises can help reduce the risk of Achilles tendon injuries by strengthening the calf muscles and improving ankle mobility. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that eccentric exercises like heel drops were effective in treating Achilles tendinopathy.
Enhancing athletic performance
Eccentric heel raises can also enhance athletic performance by improving calf strength and ankle mobility, which are important for activities like running, jumping, and cutting movements. A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that eccentric exercises like heel drops improved vertical jump performance in basketball players.
How to Perform Eccentric Heel Raises
To perform eccentric heel raises, you will need a step or a sturdy platform to stand on. Follow these steps:
1. Stand on the edge of a step or platform with the balls of your feet on the edge and your heels hanging off.
2. Slowly raise your heels up as high as you can.
3. Hold the top position for a second.
4. Slowly lower your heels down as far as you can.
5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
It is important to perform eccentric heel raises with proper form and technique to avoid injury. Make sure to keep your knees straight and your ankles in a neutral position throughout the movement. You can progress the exercise by adding weight or by performing the movement on a single leg.
Incorporating Eccentric Heel Raises into Your Workout
To incorporate eccentric heel raises into your lower body workout routine, you can perform them after your main lower body exercises like squats and lunges. Aim to perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. You can also combine eccentric heel raises with other calf exercises like calf raises and jump rope.
What Do The Studies Say?
There have been several studies done on the effectiveness of eccentric heel raises. One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that eccentric training was more effective than other treatments for Achilles tendinopathy. The study involved 58 participants with Achilles tendinopathy who were divided into two groups – one group received eccentric training, while the other received other treatments such as stretching and massage. After 12 weeks, the eccentric training group showed significant improvement in their pain and function compared to the other group.
Another study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that eccentric heel raises could improve jump performance in basketball players. The study involved 23 male college basketball players who performed eccentric heel raises for six weeks. At the end of the study, the players showed significant improvements in their vertical jump height and jump power.
Eccentric heel raises can also help prevent injuries. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that eccentric training reduced the incidence of lower leg injuries in female collegiate athletes. The study involved 174 female athletes who were divided into two groups – one group performed eccentric training, while the other performed traditional resistance training. The eccentric training group had significantly fewer lower leg injuries than the traditional training group.
Eccentric heel raises are a simple yet effective exercise that can provide a variety of benefits for your lower body. By incorporating them into your workout routine, you can improve calf strength, ankle mobility and stability, and reduce the risk of Achilles tendon injuries. Remember to perform the exercise with proper form and technique and to progress.