Triceps Surae

Otherwise known as the calf muscles. Weird word.

(did a bit of research and, apparently, the muscle and the baby cow are only coincidental homonyms).

Anyway, the first book I ever read on exercise was by Joe Weider, who more or less invented the ‘sport’ of bodybuilding. I now think that whole system of exercise is, at best, ridiculous and, at worst, harmful, but recently I was reminded of a passage describing Ah-nold’s struggles with his calves.

“Everyday you walk around. When you walk you are using your calves. You are pushing at least your body weight every time you take a step. So, when you go to the gym and work out your calves with light weight, are you really stressing your muscles?”*

So lately I’ve taken up barefoot running. Actually, it’s sock-footed running until I get my new ‘shoes‘ – who knew treadmills got scalding hot as you run on them?!

And my calves are toast.

Ever thought about the difference between walking and running? Walking is when you always have a foot touching the ground. Running is more like small controlled jumps. When you land, you’ve got your entire bodyweight slamming into the ground.

With the standard modern running style, this force is absorbed by the heel of your shoe as your foot strikes and, apparently, can cause ‘downstream’ problems in your knees, hips and back.

Barefoot running is stealth running; think of it as trying to run without making any noise, on the balls of your feet like a thief in the night. Now there is no heel strike and the shock gets totally gobbled up by those hard-to-stress calf muscles.

So Ah-nold is right, but for the wrong reasons. Calves would be hard to ‘build’, but not because you walk around; I’d say it’s because they evolved to absorb a ridiculous amount of punishment (running long distances barefoot) and all that toughness lies dormant.

*swiped this from another website, but it’s the right sentiment