High Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine

Dr. Lara Johnson, PT, DPT, MS – Rehabilitation, Injury Prevention, and Sports Training. Located in Boulder, Colorado

Graston Technique Certified

Post coming soon…

Calf Stretch Quick Tip

I have found myself helping several people with their calf stretch technique over the past couple of weeks.  Stretching the calf area is important for preventing continued muscle shortening, and during rehab for conditions such as plantar fasciitis and other foot or ankle problems. When we perform a calf stretch we are affecting the gastrocnemius muscle, soleus muscle (especially if the knee is bent), as well as the achilles tendon or heel cord, and connective tissue.  When most of us think of stretching a muscle we think of needing to feel that stretch.  I noticed for example, while stretching with the aid of a slant board, many individuals tend to stand over the the board with a mega-slant angle to try to use their body weight to force a bigger stretch in those posterior lower leg muscles.

Here is a variation, and a  potentially safer way to stretch the gastroc-soleus complex: Scoot the slantboard back from the wall so that you have room for your other, non-stretching leg to step forward while the back leg is still on the board (feel free to lower the angle of the slant for this). This allows your muscle to relax a little more, and puts you in a more function-friendly position (think stepping or walking).  Try it out and you can be the judge of whether you like it better.  If you don’t have  or use a slantboard, then try taking a small hand weight (2 to 5 pounds is sufficient) on which to rest your forefoot. You can use anything that is a similar height, such as a book, half-step or half-curb, a rock outside, or whatever you may find.  Allow that muscle to relax rather.  And it is okay to not feel the stretch- this means you are elongating the muscle into it’s natural range of motion rather than the muscle acting to resist. Good luck- keep those lower legs loose and healthy!


Step forward with forefoot raised and rested.

Hold for 20-30seconds each side.

New Blogger

Hopefully I gave some insight into my background in my first post, but now I want to share my reason for going at this blog thing. My aim is to provide education and promote health. I am passionate about health, wellness, and the science of exercise, and I’m fascinated by the way the human body works (or sometimes doesn’t). In posting, I hope to help inform and inspire, or at least motivate you to learn about and understand your own health, and then do all you can do to optimize it. I am always learning, through my own fitness and injury problems as well as through my patients and article research. I wish to discuss anatomy and injury, health and nutrition, exercise tips, and new treatment techniques, among other topics. And I want to know what questions you may have. If I don’t know the answer to something, I will research like crazy until we find a solution. My background is competitive running, so much of my passion stems from this, however I also love swimming and cycling, strength training, yoga, climbing, eating a clean diet (chocolate counts, right?), cross training (I could be a professional pool runner), and anything that is inspiring, motivating, and keeps us all living life, surpassing our goals, and doing the awesome activities we love. I truly hope you find this a useful and enjoyable resource.

Return to Colorful Colorado

I have had the good fortune to return to my home state of Colorado after many years of moving farther and farther away. And what better place to land than in Boulder, home of the outdoor enthusiasts, the activity addicted, the friendly foodies. I all but vibrate with excitement over the fancy bicycles that speed by and the multitude of runners, of all types, and on all types of runs from road to trail to path to track. And don’t leave out the year-round outdoor pools, for those of us who wish to keep our workouts outside regardless of the temperatures or precipitation.  Couple these fun and active individuals with entrepreneurial businesses (food, health, gear) and a collective love of the outdoors and sunshine, and this is one wonderful and amazing place to live.

I have lived in many wonderful places in between my start and return to the mountain state. Although Nebraska does not sound to most people like the most exciting place to be, my collegiate experiences more than made up for the lack of overall hills and trees. In fact, our home Cross Country race course was the hilliest and hardest I’ve ever run, set in Brickyard Park in Hastings, NE, the course wound up, down, through, and around a bowl-shaped grass- and woodchip-laden park. And your efforts are rewarded by brick-colored tainting to your shoe soles after the race or workout. Long runs and workouts with to-be-lifetime friends underscore these college memories. That and lots and lots of corn fields.

A long drive while watching the changing countryside brought me to North Carolina for graduate school. Consistent beauty on the Wake Forest campus must be credited to the University’s landscaping team. While Spring rolls around early in March with green grass and blooming flowers, summer is prone to high humidity, though winter is comparatively mild with sporadic ice storms. Groomed campus trail loops, and fast track workouts with the team were highlights of this running chapter. A bonus collegiate season was just what I needed to feel at home at the school and on the track. Even though I was teaching the undergraduates in the classroom, I was enjoying running with them in workouts and races. This, combined with my coursework in Health and Exercise Science, made for an exceptional graduate experience.

My next experiences came in the form of professional employment, and took me north to Boston. A city full of history. And successful pro sports teams. And runners. And colleges. And hospitals. A great place for employment in academics and health care. And for athletic pursuit. Boston fever took hold on this this middle distance runner as I felt the need to go for the marathon (among other distances). And, thanks to consistency along the way, and to great coaches and teammates in the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) running club, I found continued personal bests in every distance. Boston stretched me to the capacity of my creative means of commute, as I went from riding the train to bike commuting to running all of my commutes from home and back. I will miss the sun rising and gleaming off the Charles River, the dark workouts at the Harvard track, quieter trails along the Emerald Necklace, but most especially the wonderful friends I had the opportunity to chat with over hours and hours of running.

As I sadly say farewell to Boston, I excitedly welcome new friends and experiences in Boulder. As I return to my sunny home, I am already enjoying exploring the trails, swimming outside in the winter, and taking the bike out for a spin. I am proud to move forward while having been shaped by many wonderful people along the way: educators, friends, running partners, clients, classmates, patients, students, study participants, colleagues, and mentors. So on this return to home, I remain the same person who traveled away, though altered and still growing, and I enthusiastically await a new wave of such wonderful people to come along and help shape my life as I hope to do the same for them.

Dr. Lara Johnson, PT, DPT, MS

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. Injury Prevention, Sports Training, and Athletic Performance Located in Boulder, Colorado


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.