Test Yourself: 1-Leg Heel Raises
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Here's how the test yourself series works. I give you a quick test to do at home or in the gym. You do the test and I'll tell you how you did. If you didn't do so well, then I have options to improve at the end. Simple as that.
Today, we have an ankle test you can do at home to see how great your calf strength and endurance is.
Why is this important?
Well, poor calf strength and/or is a risk factor for multiple foot and ankle conditions such as achilles tendinopathy (tendinitis) and plantar fasciitis.
1. Find a wall, counter, or sturdy furniture to hold on to for balance.
2. Shift your weight onto ONE leg.
3. Raise your heel up high and return to the ground.
4. Repeat the full range of motion for maximal repetitions.
5. Feel the Burn! It can be normal to feel a muscle burn during the final repetitions of this exercise.
6. Record the number.
7. Repeat on the other leg.
It can be surprising how much this one can burn. This is normal again so do not worry. Also, one side can be stronger than the other and you'd never know otherwise. 2-Leg Heel Raises are deceiving for this.
A study in 2017 by Herbert-Losier et al studied over 500 people and found normal values for each. Look for yourself at the normal values they found.
20-29: Male 37 repetitions, Females 30 repetitions
30-39: M 32, F 27
40-49: M 28, F 24
50-59: M 23, F 21
60-69: M 19, F 19
70-79: M 14, F 16
80-89: M 10, F 13
Our calves our extremely strong since they have to carry and push the rest of our body forward. It is often under appreciated.
So what should I do if I can't meet the normal number?
The simplest solution is to perform this test as exercise! However, I prefer to perform multiple sets that go into a muscle burn. An example may be to perform 3 sets of 20 repetitions trying to feel a muscle burn. Do this 2-4 times weekly for a month and that number will definitely go up. It doesn't have to be complicated.
Tell me how you did in the comments below. I'd love to hear it.
Reference: Hébert-Losier, K., Newsham-West, R. J., Schneiders, A. G., & Sullivan, S. J. (2009). Raising the standards of the calf-raise test: A systematic review. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12(6), 594–602. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2008.12.628