The calf’s function is to flex your foot from your ankle joint, and flex the leg at the knee joint. You calf muscle is responsible for your ability to point your toes, whether you do so in ballet or soccer. Your calf also pulls your heel upwards, which prompts the forward movement you need for running, walking, and jumping. As such the calf is an integral part of every sport, as well as everyday life. Unfortunately, a lot of people forget to focus on their lower legs when they workout.
What to expect from the calf stretch
Everyone can benefit from more elastic calves, but runners will find it particularly advantageous. Not only can it prevent injury while running, but it increases one’s range of motion, too. Stair stretches and shin stretches are a good start for targeting the upper and lower calves. With these added into your warm-up and cool-down routine, your calves are guaranteed to get the attention they need to stay functioning at a high level.
How to prepare for a calf stretch
You should double check with your doctor or trainer before beginning, to make sure that your form is correct and that calf stretches won’t have an adverse effect on your situation. Before stretching you should warm up and then walk around to get your blood pumping – stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
Areas you'll work out with a calf stretch
Your calf is composed of the gastrocnemius, which is on the back of your lower leg beginning just above the knee, and the soleus, which starts below the knee. Calf stretches no only help improve your flexibility, but they help to lessen knee pains as well. With regular stretching and increased flexibility you can prevent different injuries like a muscle tear, rupture, strain, or a pulled calf muscle. You will even be preventing injuries in other areas like shin splints, inflammation in your foot, and ankle pain. When 14,000 injured runners were surveyed, it was found that calf pulls were the second most common injury. A “pull” is when one of your two calf muscles – the gastrocnemius or the soleus – separates from its attachment at the Achilles tendon. Tight calf muscles can be genetic, or maybe a result of working them out too intensely. If you do not stretch out your calves, you run the danger of their damage making its way upwards to your hip flexors and putting stress on your lower back. Every muscle group in the body is connected to another, and when one is altered there is a domino effect.
Tips for Success in a calf stretch
Stretches take time, so go slowly. Rushing will only make you injure yourself. Keep your breathing normal – none of your movements should feel strenuous. Keep your stretches simple and to the point: bouncing in place or trying to stretch them too far all at once will only produce an injury. You will begin to see improvement if you stretch at least once a day, holding each position for a good 30 seconds and repeating it two or three times per leg.