The two exercises runners should do every day
Published 13 May 2020. Written by Chris Worfolk.
If you are a runner, you will want to keep your legs in good shape and avoid injury. In this article, I will discuss the two exercises I do every day and recommend to other runners.
First off, a confession. The title is a little clickbaity. These are the two exercises I do every day, but it doesn't mean they are the two essential ones for all runners. They just work for me, probably because my calf muscles are my weak spot. My knees aren't, for example, so I don't worry about them too much.
Second, these aren't the only strength and conditioning exercises I do. I have a whole workout that I do once or twice a week. These are the ones that I do every day.
Here is the video:
Or, if you would prefer to read, see below.
The humble calf raise is easy to do at first but soon becomes difficult. It goes from easy to very painful quickly, so stop as soon as you feel you have reached your limit.
You can do them with both legs, single-leg, off a block to get more of a stretch, or, as I do in the video, with a rolled-up towel to prop my toes up.
The benefit of this is that I am also stretching my plantar fascia, which is important for keeping plantar fasciitis at bay. The plantar fascia is the connective tissue in our foot (I called it a muscle in the video to keep it simple, but it is connective tissue) and it is the thing that feels like daggers in your feet when you first get out of bed in a morning. Hopefully, you have no idea what I am talking about, but if you do, this will be a great exercise for you.
As I have discussed on the blog previously, we're looking for 30 single-leg calf raises if possible, but most people start around 10-15 and have to slowly work up to that level. It takes time; have patience.
I'm always in two minds about recommending foam rolling because the science is unclear: some studies support it, others don't. Therefore, I recommend trying it and seeing if it makes you feel better. If so, at worst, you have a good placebo.
I don't foam roll my legs much but taking a tennis ball to the bottom of my feet works wonders for making them feel better. You can use different kind of balls, including this spiky massage ones, but for me, a tennis ball is the perfect size and amount of give that I can apply plenty of pressure on it without being in too much discomfort.
Simply place the ball on the ground and put one foot on it at a time and roll. You can adjust the amount of weight you put on it as needed.