- Dr. Jenna Arts
The Correct Way To Stretch Your Calves
Tight calf muscles…you’ve probably got them.
They may not be sore, they may not “feel” tight, but most of us have spent a lifetime wearing shoes with elevated heels (even teeny tiny ones…myself included!) which over time lead to tension in the calf muscles calf muscles.
And my guess is that if you just try these stretches, your response will be something like “oh wow, my calves ARE tight!”
Here’s how you can restore proper movement back into the muscles of your lower leg.
Grab a towel or yoga mat and roll it up into a log. Place your toes on the towel, while keeping your heel on the ground. Gently move your opposite foot in front of the foot positioned on the towel until you feel a gentle stretch. To stretch your gastrocnemius (fancy name for "calf muscles at the top part of your lower leg") you must keep your knee straight, since this muscle crosses the knee joint. Bending your knee takes all the slack out of the gastrocnemius muscles (and is cheating!) If the stretch is too uncomfortable, bring your opposite foot closer in line with the foot that is being stretched.
Your soleus and Achille’s tendon are also part of the calf muscle family, but they don’t cross the knee joint and are located closer to the foot. So, the best way to stretch them is with a slight bend in your knee.
Hold each stretch for up to 2 minutes and repeat this stretch twice a day.
These are especially recommended if you’re currently enrolled in or have a history of activities where you spend a lot of time on the ball of your foot (on your tippy toes.) Things like dancing, gymnastics, running (so, most sports), walking uphill or skipping.
Remember, if your calf muscles are tight, your gait becomes more rigid, moving your body into a forward flexed position to compensate. This doesn't just affect the muscles in your lower legs, but causes compensatory patterns all the way up your legs to your hips, pelvis and spine. These stretches will help restore proper movement back into your calves, but your chiropractor should of course also check to see whether structural imbalances developed higher up the chain.
I hope you found this helpful. Make it a great week,