According to the Drumming System, drummers play heel down while playing at softer volumes. Some drummers play this way all the time. With this technique, the heel stays on the foot plate of the bass drum pedal while playing.
This ends up working the Tibialis anterior muscle, which is located on the other side of the calf. The Tibialis anterior muscle is very difficult to develop. In fact, this is the muscle responsible for the pain known as “shin splints”. This technique that drummers use is one of the few exercises that builds this muscle. One of the hidden rewards of working on this is that it develops control for the heel up technique. Regardless, the Tibialis anterior is a delicate muscle. A light burn isn’t a bad thing. Pain is bad! A great way to warm yourself up is to put your toes on the bass drum pedal, and move your heels slowly, from side to side.
The Drumming System suggests practicing simple patterns, such as quarter notes, at first. Try to get as much power as you can out of playing. You will feel your Tibialis anterior muscle burning. The Drumming System also suggests going through the Stick Control book heel down once you start getting comfortable with this motion.
Practicing this is so convenient: You can practice anywhere! For myself, tapping my feet lightly while in school was a productive distraction from boring classes.
In my own experience, I play this way when I play at softer volumes and when I am looking for tone from the bass drum. When I first learned it, I was in pain. Overtime, it’s become a regular skill in my playing. Nowadays, I work out of Bass Drum Control by Colin Bailey. I play quarter notes on the hi hat while doing the exercises. Years ago, my teacher, Dave Rataczjak, taught me that keeping your heel down on the hi hat and playing quarter notes really grounds you in your timing.