I always suggest calf stretch to the people with tight calf muscles. I usually find those people in clinic with plantar fasciitis, personeal tendinitis, hallux valgus like issues and this list goes on and on.
A person needs 15 degrees of dorsiflexion walk, walk quickly and if you can run that’s better. Most of the time, people don’t know whether or not they are suffering from calf tightness. What actually causes the calf tightness? Problems like improper posture, high heels, etc. can contribute towards calf muscle tightness.
Your feet are the lower part of this kinetic chain. When you move your foot, it effects the knee motion, hips, and even lower back. If you have calf tightness then your feet will try to compensate that which will lead towards improper feet placement on ground. This improper walk will lead towards other imbalances issues.
What is the calf muscle?
There are two major muscles included in calf: gastrocnemius and soleus. Both of them attaches to the Achillis tendon at the ankle back. The calf is very powerful plantar flexor because of ankle configuration and longer lever arm.
The gastrocnemius starts form the knee. So to stretch this muscle your knee should be in straight position. The other muscle soleus is the deeper muscle and starts form the below of knee. So there is no requirement to extend the knee to stretch it.
Why is this stretch important?
To have a proper walk, you need to do calf stretch your tighten muscles. A normal walk includes 15 degree of foot up position. If your ankle is unable to move that far, then other joints will try to compensate that. That can lead you towards toeing out, forefoot pronation, more rotation of knee, etc.
The tighten calf muscles can cause many issues that we are going to enlist below. Adopting calf stretch in your routine workout could a fruitful option.
- Hallux rigidus
- Hallux valgus
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Mechanical back pain
- Patellofemoral pain syndromes
Why the calf muscle is often get tight?
There could be many reasons for calf tightness, but here are some most commonly observed reasons. You should consider them in your routine so you can avoid any of the issues related to calf tightness.
- Calf muscles are very likely to get tight if you are not taking care of proper range of motion on regular basis. If you are facing any of the issue described above, you may want to consult your physician.
- High heels tend to shorten our calf muscles. If you keep wearing high heels, your body will adopt this new short calf length and will respond accordingly. That will results in some issues listed above
- Calf muscles are considered to be postural muscles. You calf muscles are able to contract for longer time without getting fatigues. It is your duty to make then relax and stretch them regularly
- If you are athlete then you are most likely to get calf muscle tightness if you don’t stretch them accordingly
- Some people may have some hereditary issues that can affect your calf muscles
Most Common Calf Stretches
Here are some calf stretch exercises that you may want to add in your routine of workouts
Standing calf stretch - Gastrocnemius
- Stand at the three feet away from the wall and place your right foot behind you.
- Make sure your toes are facing forward. Keep your heels on the ground and lean forward by keeping your right foot straight
- To target medial and lateral parts of the calf, rotate the toe in and out slightly
- Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and come back to the original position.
Standing calf stretch -Soleus
- Stand three feet away from the wall and put your right foot behind you. Make sure your toes are in forward position
- Lean forward by considering two things in mind: i) your right knee should be bending ii) keep your heels on the ground.
- Your knee should be well and safely flexed and all the tension should be taken over by soleus instead of gastrocnemius
- Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and come back to the original position
Downward dog yoga stretch
- You need to place your both hands on the floor along with foot just below your shoulder.
- Walk your hands slightly in forward position on the floor
- You need to spread your fingers that will increase your balance support on the floor.
- Push your hips towards the ceiling by tightening your abdominal muscles.
- Keeping your heels on the ground, try to straighten your knees.
- Hold this position for a while and then retrace your initial position