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Thread: heel board

  1. #1
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    heel board

    Another thread asking about arthritis and knee pain brought to mind the heel board I use most regularly for tight hamstrings, leg cramps, and backaches. It is a very simple device and I am going to post a picture and details. First the usual warnings: Perhaps if you are fragile enough just getting on a heel board might damage something. Misusing it by raising up on your toes while on it is almost guaranteed to lead to regrets, don't do it! It is easy to lose your balance on a heel board so always have a doorway or something handy to grab onto with your hands for balance. Start with short time periods and add time getting to about five minutes once or twice a day. For those easily bored like me having a TV in sight isn't the worst idea.

    After talking about the woes, the benefits I receive from a heel board are that it stretches tight muscles and connective tissue sometimes all the way to the back of my head! Helps with leg cramps, knee aches, back pain, and just as a fringe benefit lengthens my stride so I walk fewer steps in a day.

    As the picture with my sunday go to meeting shoe on it to indicate how it is meant to be stood on shows, the heel board is nothing more than a simple wedge. This one is 3/4" to top of board on the low end, 6" on the high end. Probably should have made that five or five and a half, this one is a little steep. If it isn't steep enough it is possible to lean forward a little to add stretch on the hamstrings. These dimensions are for barefoot use, it would probably be perfect wearing shoes now.

    The bad news is if you need a heel board it isn't a pleasant thing to use for the first week or so. Stretching muscles and connective tissue that have been contracted for years doesn't come easily. Start with three minutes a day and that may have to be broken into several shorter sessions. As it gets easier go to five minutes once or twice a day. I lean forward to increase the angle now too. Legs should be as straight as possible without locking knees, back straight without being hyperextended too.

    Full dimensions on my board are 14" wide by 12" heel to toe of wedge, and about five inches of rise from the bottom of wedge to top. Three quarter plywood and a chunk of two by were my materials used. Note that by ripping a two by corner to corner the bottom of the supports stick out in front of the plywood making the platform very stable.

    Again this is a stretching aid, not an exercise device!! Several people have been hurt trying to use it as an exercise device by raising up on their toes while on the heel board. Not a move your body is used to doing and can cause injury. Easy for some of us to fall off of the board too, have a doorway or something similar to hang onto while getting on and off and while using the heel board. These work great for athletes and years ago some NBA teams used them for stretching, no idea if they still do. However like anything there is some risk involved. When in doubt don't! If uncertain talk to your doctor or therapist, I don't even play one on TV and it has been a long time since I stayed at a Holiday Express.

    The heel board works wonders for me and I have kept one by my bed for twenty years to fight leg and back muscle cramps. Five minutes morning and evening is probably best. Good news is you can't overdose on it and bad nights I might use it three or four times. As with anything we do, some risk involved. Don't rush things and expect to feel tightness and stretching when first using the board or using it after skipping for awhile. I have been so tight my heels wouldn't touch the board. No fun stretching tendons that tight!

    Hope this is of some help to someone. Like most things, please use caution and common sense if you decide to try a heel board. We can injure ourselves doing almost anything and that certainly includes making and using a heel board. Usual disclaimer, if you injure or kill yourself or somebody else I take no responsibility for your actions.

    Hu
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails heel board 002post.jpg  

  2. #2
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    Well, I followed your plans and built a heel board. But I was raising up on my toes just like you said to do, when BAM! OW! I think I ruptured my SPLEEN! Thanks a lot for nothing, Hu!



    Seriously, I've done similar stretching actions for several years (but not with a dedicated device like a heel board) and agree it's a good thing to do to help keep things limber. Thanks for posting the pic and the dimensions.
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  3. #3
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    Oddly enough, Just the other night I woke up screaming in pain from a sudden cramp in my left calf.

    I've had cramps that were painful before, but this one was the worst I've ever had and lasted the longest of any I've ever had.

    I was unable to even walk normally for a couple of days.

    I'll be making one of these and using it.

    Thanks Hu!
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    Oddly enough, Just the other night I woke up screaming in pain from a sudden cramp in my left calf.

    I've had cramps that were painful before, but this one was the worst I've ever had and lasted the longest of any I've ever had.

    I was unable to even walk normally for a couple of days.

    I'll be making one of these and using it.

    Thanks Hu!
    I used to have this happen often - several times a month! Ouch. I remember doing a little reading up on it and found out that certain B vitamin deficiencies can exacerbate, if not cause, this problem. I've been taking a B-100 supplement for years now and have only experienced the cramp a few times in all those years.

    Regarding the heel board - great idea. Linda's doctor recommended hamstring stretches for back pain and it was very helpful. She did it (as do I) by standing about 3 feet from a wall, placing one foot at a time a few inches ahead of the other then (with you arms in front of you and placed on the wall) leaning forward to stretch the muscles in the back of your calf. Same effect, but the heel board looks a lot easier!
    Last edited by Rennie Heuer; 09-21-2013 at 07:39 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennie Heuer View Post
    I used to have this happen often - several times a month! Ouch. I remember doing a little reading up on it and found out that certain B vitamin deficiencies can exacerbate, if not cause, this problem. I've been taking a B-100 supplement for years now and have only experienced the cramp a few times in all those years.

    Regarding the heel board - great idea. Linda's doctor recommended hamstring stretches for back pain and it was very helpful. She did it (as do I) by standing about 3 feet from a wall, placing one foot at a time a few inches ahead of the other then (with you arms in front of you and placed on the wall) leaning forward to stretch the muscles in the back of your calf. Same effect, but the heel board looks a lot easier!

    I used to do the runners stretches, back when I ran a little in the early nineties when desk fat was overtaking me. The heel board does give me more stretch and of course I do both legs at once.

    I place the heel board as far from the wall by a doorway as I can and still grab the doorway, at arm's length. One thing I didn't mention is feet straight ahead or toed in slightly, foot rotation makes a huge difference. I lean forward some as I loosen up to keep stretching as much as possible. A kitchen timer is always there to clock five minutes, seems like a long time sometimes.

    Hu

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