Benefits of the Calf Stretch
The calf muscle on the back of the lower leg is actually made up of two muscles: the Gastrocnemius (looks like two bubbles when you go on your tippy toes) and the Soleus. These muscles are prone to locking up (i.e a Charley Horse.) These two muscles might not look important to many but they play one of the biggest roles in our everyday life of walking from point A to point B. The Gastrocnemius crosses at the knee and ankle, and the Soleus crosses only the ankle. The ends of the gastroc and soleus tendons fuse at the ankle to create what we know as the Achilles tendon. Stretching these muscles will prevent injury to the ankle and the many little muscles that help stabilize the ankle and the possibility of tearing your Achilles.
With so many stretches for the calves here are a few of our favorites:
-A great way to keep yourself from having a Charley Horse in the morning is when you stretch out in bed…NEVER point your toes. Save that for when you are more awake and have better blood flow. You want to flex your toes towards your head and extend your legs – this will give you an amazing calf stretch in the morning.
-When taking the stairs up if no one is behind you stop for a minute, put the balls of your feet at the edge of the stairs and allow your heel to hang off. Slow push your heel toward the lower step and stretch the calf. You can do both but one at a time is much better.
-Use the wall in your office by placing one foot on the wall. You want your heel as close as you can get it, the other foot should be about 2.5 – 3 feet back, next lean forward towards the wall. You will feel this deep in the muscle. Just breath into it, never hold your breath and try not to breath quickly. The slower and deeper your breath the deeper the stretch will be and the more release you will achieve.