Eccentric Heel Drops are recommended for all runners as part of our weekly routine.
How to do Eccentric Heel Drops
This video shows how to do Eccentric Heel Drops:
To perform the eccentric heel drop, find a step. If it’s carpeted, you can do this barefoot. If it’s a hard step, a shoe would be preferable for proper movement.
- Stand on the step with heels hanging off the step.
- Raise UP on TWO feet so that it’s EASY on the way up.
- Lower DOWN on ONE foot slowly so that the load is on the way down.
- HOLD below step height for a moment.
- Before raising back up at all, put the other foot back on the step and then raise up again, so always easy up on two feet, load down on one foot slowly.
How many should I do?
Start with 10 on each leg. If you find that difficult, you can alternate, one on the left, one on the right and then back to the left etc. so you get a little rest in between each one.
Try that 4 times in a week. Put a note at the bottom of the stairs to remind you!
The following week, try moving on to 15. Gradually increase.
What are the benefits of Eccentric Heel Drops?
Many resistance exercises are done with the muscles going into contraction, which means the muscles get shorter to pull the limb. For example, think about a bicep curl where we pull the forearm tight with the bicep while the bicep contracts shorter.
Eccentric exercise means that the muscles get longer during load. We could change a bicep curl into an eccentric exercise by lowering the dumbbell slowly with one hand during which the bicep would still be loaded, but it would be lengthening during the movement instead of contracting. We’d need to make it easier on the way back up by pulling it up with both hands.
Similarly with these Eccentric Heel Drops, the calf muscles are under load while lengthening as the ankle bends on the way down on one foot. The calf muscles are contracting during the easy phase on the way up on two feet. This means that the calves are being strengthened, but in a way that lengthens them, which is great because it takes the pressure off the Achilles, increases strength around the Achilles, gives the calf greater controlled range of movement and could also have an impact further up the chain, in the hamstring and glute. It will therefore help you be a stronger, more controlled runner and could reduce your chance of Achilles injury.
Eccentric Heel Drops for Achilles injury rehabilitation
Because the Eccentric Heel drop lengthens the calf muscles, it is recommended for Achilles injury recovery / rehabilitation, as well as being a preventative measure.
Note that if you have an Achilles injury, before trying to do the Eccentric Heel Drop exercise, you should try standing on tip-toe on one foot and stay there for a second. If it’s too painful to stay there for a moment, you are not ready to perform these and should do more recovery via rest first.
Eccentric Heel Drops for transitioning from high drop shoes to lower drop shoes
Most trainers have a higher heel than forefoot. This is called “drop”. Some trainers have a smaller difference and are called low drop and if the shoe is flat, they are zero drop. Changing from a high drop to a low drop or zero drop can aggravate the Achilles and calf. Eccentric Heel Drops can be used to help with this transition, preparing the calves a little.
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