Whether you’re active at the gym, going for a walk or sitting at the desk all day, you should learn how to use Calf Stretches!
Many people aren’t aware that there are two muscles that make up the calf or that there is a need for two different types of calf stretches – one with bent knees and one with straight knees.
The calf is made up by the two heads of the Gastrocnemius muscle and the Soleus muscle. Together the two calf muscles are responsible for flexing or pointing the foot (plantar flexion), enabling us to push off with walking, running, jumping and stair climbing! They also contract to help keep us balanced when we are standing upright.
The Gastrocnemius (Gastroc’s for short) muscle is made up of a medial and lateral head and forms the bulk of the calf, sitting just below the back of the knee. They activate when the knee is straight and go slack when the knee is bent.
Soleus is deep to the Gastroc’s and makes up the flat part of the lower calf. It takes over as the dominant contractor when the knee is bent.
So it is important to stretch both components of the calf to decrease muscle pain and tightness!
Simple stretches to utilise are the wall stretch and the stair stretch.
- Start with your hands against the wall in a lunge type position, with both feet flat on the floor
- Front knee bent and back knee straight – this will stretch the Gastroc’s
- Change this up to target the Soleus by bending the back knee.
- Standing on the edge of a step and dropping one heel down off the back of the step
- Keep the knee straight to target the Gastroc’s
- Bend the knee to target the Soleus.
Hold these stretches can be held for 20-30 seconds, done on both legs, throughout the day when needed. As these are static stretches, they are great to do post-exercise when cooling down and recovering.
If you’re suffering from Calf pain or stiffness or would like to learn more, make an appointment online with one of our Osteopaths or Remedial Massage therapists!