calf muscle stretches

The APTA offers a series of stretches, from easy to moderate to advanced. Do not stretch through pain. Hold the position for three seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. The calf muscles run from the back of the knee to about halfway down the lower leg. Whenever you feel like your calf muscles are getting tight, give them a quick stretch to keep them feel looser and more flexible. If it is not, sit farther from the piece of furniture or pull harder on the band. Try these simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles. Never rush a stretch. However, there are factors that increase the chances of sustaining a torn calf muscle. Always stretch both sides. Step 2: Shift the body’s weight on to the front (right) leg, while keeping the back heel pressed into the floor. Top Calf Exercise #2: Seated Calf Raise. Standing Bent-Over Calf Stretch Stand with your feet staggered. Reach both arms to the wall. When performing this stretch, try to keep the hips centered over both feet and avoid leaning to one side. On the hunt for calf stretches? You're far from alone. While the treatment of tight calf muscles can vary by the underlying cause, stretching tends to improve most symptoms if performed correctly.4 To do so safely: 1. Place the right leg in front of the left. Last medically reviewed on January 31, 2020, Calf muscle pain is often caused by overuse or a sports injury. Then, relax for 30 seconds. Massages and cold or hot compresses can also help relax tight calf muscles and relieve associated discomfort. Step 1: Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front. This ensures your gait is balanced. These two muscles join together part way down your calf to form the achilles tendon which attaches to the back of the heel. Step 1: Stand with the right leg in front of the left leg. Step 3: Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. To do an isometric calf stretch, start in the same position as a normal seated calf stretch. Your physical therapist can tell you the best frequency to use when stretching your calf muscles and Achilles' tendons. That's why calf stretch has always been an essential part of training warm up. Wrap the opposite end of the band around the foot. Step 4: Repeat the movement 10 times, then change to the opposite side. The largest and outermost muscle is the gastrocnemius. Isometric exercises are based on resisting forces. In this article, we provide a visual guide to…, A pulled calf muscle can cause minor or severe pain in the calf, depending on the extent of the injury. In some people, calf pain results from more serious underlying medical conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis and peripheral vascular disease. They can give you an accurate diagnosis of your condition and determine if tight calf muscles may be causing your problem. Step 4: Repeat this movement 10 times, then change to the opposite side. Calf stretches can really help reduce knee pain and improve flexibility. A grade 1 injury to your calf is usually referred to as a “pulled calf.” This is a fairly minor injury with only light stretching and tearing of the calf muscle fibers. Stretches can help relieve tightness and pain in the calf muscles when the discomfort results from overactivity or insufficient stretching. The AAOS recommend the following calf stretches in their foot and ankle conditioning program, which aims to help people return to daily activities and sports following an injury or surgery. However, calf pain and discomfort sometimes result from underlying medical conditions, such as nutrient imbalances or deficiencies, peripheral vascular disease, or deep vein thrombosis. Step 1: Stand about an arm’s length in front of a wall. Lean forward and grab the arches of your feet. Step 2. Face a wall and stand 12 inches away from it. While this movement is similar to the standing calf raise, the seated calf raise will actually target the lower muscles of the calf (the soleus).. New runners and seasoned marathoners alike will get tight muscles and, while a lot of people remember to … If you feel pain during any part of a stretch, ease back and maintain gentle pressure until the muscle relaxes on its own. The calf is in the back of the lower leg, below the knee. By working to keep your calf muscles flexible, you can get back to moving normally with little or no pain. Both of these muscles insert into the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. This stretch requires the use of a wall. Sit with the machine pads resting on your thighs. If the pain persists, stop. Try a deep calf stretch. Step 3: Keeping the legs straight, pull the towel toward the body, and hold the position for 30 seconds. 3) Standing Gastrocnemius Stretch. Step 1: Place the right leg in front of the left leg. Hold this position for 15–20 seconds. Hold this position for 15–20 seconds. The outside calf muscle is known as the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, which is a two-headed muscle group. The AAOS caution that people should always warm up before stretching. The larger muscle, gastrocnemius, starts just above the knee, and soleus, which sits underneath, starts just below the knee. Grab a resistance band (a strap, towel, or a rope could work well too) and sit with your legs straight in front of you. Calf muscle stretching exercises The calf muscles consist of the larger gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle which is located deeper and lower down the leg. Strengthen and tone your legs with these calve exercises. Learn more about the symptoms and how to treat…, Tight hamstrings are a common complaint, particularly for sportspeople. These stretches for tight calf muscles should be easy for anyone to do. Breathing. 2. Step 3: Pull the toes toward the body, then slowly return them to the starting position. The back should be straight for the duration of the stretch. One... 2. Massages and cold or hot compresses can also help. Step 4: Repeat the stretch three times, then do the same on the other side. The easiest way to do the calf stretch is by standing about 1 to 2 feet from a wall. Your calf muscles may require improved flexibility if you have an injury or illness that prevents normal mobility. Best exercises and remedies for plantar fasciitis, Pulled calf muscle: Symptoms and what to do. If you feel intense pain or discomfort, stop the exercise and check in with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure you are stretching properly. Wrap a towel or strap around the ball of one foot. Step 2: Wrap one end of the elastic band around one foot, and hold the opposite end. In this article, we describe some stretches that can help relax tight calf muscles and relieve any associated discomfort. You'll target the two muscles that make up the calf: The gastrocnemius … Step 1: Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front. Step 3: Keeping both heels flat on the ground, press the hips toward the wall. To effectively stretch both these muscles exercises should be done with the knee bent as well as straight. If this is not the case, slide the back leg further away until you feel the stretch. This requires a tabletop or chair for support. While this seems like a simple motion, there are many problems that can affect upwards…, © 2004-2020 Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, a Red Ventures Company. Each is trainer-approved. Tightness in these muscles can cause soreness and pain. 1. If you are having any lower extremity problem, check in with your doctor and then see a physical therapist. Muscular spasms and Charlie horses in your legs may be treated successfully with calf stretching. Also bend your back knee, keeping your heel on the ground, as you lean toward the wall. (You can put your arms on the wall for support.). Keep your toes pointing straight ahead. Step 3: Keeping the left leg straight, raise the left heel as high as possible. Calf muscle can prevent injuries. To try this exercise: 2  Wrap the band around the end of your foot and press down into the band, extending your toes and engaging the calf. The force of your hands should be enough to keep your leg from straightening. Each stretch can help strengthen the calf muscles, providing better support for the lower leg, foot, and ankle. The towel calf stretch is a great way to stretch your calf muscles, especially if you can't reach your feet with your hands as in stretch 2. Pull your toes toward your body until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Benefits Of Calf Stretches. All rights reserved. Lean against the wall with your arms outstretched. When you pull back on the ball of your foot, use your calf muscles to try and straighten your leg, but don’t actually move it. The calf muscle (gastrocnemius) is the large muscle located on the back of the leg, below the knee. Step 1: Stand with equal body weight on each foot. Your calf muscles may also become tight if you have foot drop or weakness in your anterior tibialis muscle. 4. Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent. One requires a wall, and the other does not. The tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone is known as the Achilles tendon. Its pointless performing a calf stretch or any of these stretches if you have not warmed up your muscles by simple aerobic exercises. Pull up gently on your toes, feeling the stretch in your calf. Stretching calf muscles is easy with lots of benefits. Laura Inverarity, PT, DO, is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist. Calf stretches can help relieve associated soreness and pain. Step 2: Bend the right knee and lift the right foot. How to Stretch the Outside Calf Muscle. Can a smile reduce the pain of an injection? These stretches also provide a good way for anyone to alleviate calf tightness. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Step 4: Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Extend one leg behind you, keeping both feet flat on the floor and your rear knee straight. Straight-Leg Calf Stretch This stretch is excellent after exercise for reducing muscle pain. These may develop because of muscle fatigue or insufficient stretching. Regular stretching can improve a person’s range of motion, allowing the muscles to lengthen and contract more vigorously during exercise. Your soleus runs from the tibia bone of your lower leg to the calcaneus (heel bone) via the Achilles tendon [ 2 ]. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), some researchers believe that cramps result from abnormalities in the mechanisms that control muscle contractions. However, these stretches are unlikely to provide relief from other causes of calf pain — such as electrolyte, fluid, or nutrient deficiencies. Use a chair if you need more balance support. Step 2: Loop the hand towel around the ball of one foot. By improving contraction in the muscles, stretching can help prevent cramping and tightness. If you reach around and grab your calf and flex it, the muscle you are actually feeling just under the surface is called the gastrocnemius muscle in medical terminology. People may develop tight calf muscles as a result of overactivity or insufficient stretching. However, it can also indicate an underlying medical issue, including deep vein…, Certain foot and leg stretches can speed up recovery and relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis. Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, and co-founder of The Prehab Guys. Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Lean toward the wall until you feel tension in the calf muscle of the extended leg. Once the acute symptoms are cared for, stretching the calf muscle can help rehabilitate it. Strengthening these muscles can also help prevent injuries. It consists of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Stretch slowly and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Banded Calf Stretch. .. 2) Seated Calf Stretch. It … Grade 1 calf muscle injury. Each of these detailed exercises works the calf muscles in a … Plantar fasciitis: What is the diagnosis and treatment? Gently pull the towel so your toes and ankle flex up and off the floor. Tightness of the calf muscles may also be implicated in plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, or other conditions that affect your foot and ankle. The two muscles act together to plantarflex, … The top of the muscle attaches behind the knee, and the bottom connects to the Achilles tendon, which stretches all the way down to the heel. The calf muscle group is mainly comprised of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which both connect to the Achilles tendon, on the back side … The calf is made up of two muscles at the back of your lower leg. The APTA offers a series of stretches, from easy to moderate to advanced. Lower it, and repeat this movement 10 times. Stand facing a wall with your arms straight in front of you and your hands flat against the wall. Lean forward slightly so that the knee on your injured leg extends over … Hold on to a tabletop or the back of a chair for balance. Useful stretches for calf pain include: Stretching after exercising may also help to prevent muscle tightness and discomfort. When calf muscles become tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears and injury may increase. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. The other head is known as the medial head of the gastrocnemius. Your gastrocnemius is the big bulgy muscle that makes up the bulk of your calf and your soleus is a thinner muscle that lies beneath it [ 1 ]. Calf flexibility can improve sport and athletic performance. Johnson RE, Haas K, Lindow K, Shields R. Plantar fasciitis: What is the diagnosis and treatment?. Muscle tightness and cramps commonly occur in the gastrocnemius muscle. 2014;33(4):198-204: quiz 205-6. doi:10.1097/NOR.0000000000000063, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. A physiotherapist or orthopedic surgeon can help develop a personalized program. Tightness in your calf muscles can be one cause of lower extremity repetitive strain injury. Calf strain exercises are intended to maintain the strength and flexibility of the calf muscles before the occurrence of injury. After the first 3 days post-injury, you can start doing more intense stretches. There are two general techniques for stretching the calf muscles. Stand facing a wall.Place your hands on the wall. 2. Remember, you should only feel a slight pulling when stretching your calf muscles. Hold both ends of the towel. Tightness if your calf muscles may also be implicated in plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, or other conditions that affect your foot and ankle. When you think of the calves, this is the baseball-sized muscle. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. The calf is actually two muscles: the gastrocnemius, and the deeper muscle, soleus. Calf muscle stretch with or without a wall. Some people require a conditioning and stretching program that is tailored to their needs and goals. There are two heads to the … Step 2: Lightly bend the back (left) knee and point the toes inward a little. Get exercise tips to make your workouts less work and more fun. This is more likely to occur from a sudden explosive change of direction. Step 1. Repeat on the other side. Calf Muscle Stretches For Seniors And The Elderly. Towel Stretch. These require medical attention. Calf pain often comes from a calf strain, which basically means you have torn calf muscle fibers in the lower leg. 3. In this case, stretching is not an appropriate treatment, and a doctor should advise about the next steps. A pharmacist or doctor can recommend the right treatments to try. When the calf muscle contracts, it points the toes (known as plantar flexion). Heel cord stretch with bent knee. Warm muscles are more pliable and will simply be able to stretch, whilst cold muscles will be tight, hence why a lot of soft tissue muscular injuries are caused within the first 5 minutes of exercise. Your physical therapist can show you how to properly stretch your calf muscles. Starting Position: Sit in a chair with the leg to be stretched straight out in front of you. Never bounce when stretching.… Press both hands against the wall. Step 1: Stand with the right leg in front... 3. There are two general techniques for stretching the calf muscles. When calf muscles become tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears and injury increases. Your calf muscles may also become tight if you have foot drop or weakness in your anterior tibialis muscle… The calf muscles are used for movement of the legs, ankles, and feet. Of course, be sure to see your doctor before starting this—or any other—home exercise program. A person should feel the stretch down their calf muscle and into their heel. You can do these calf muscle exercises, including calf raises and jumping jacks, at home. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), Healthcare workers have 7 times the risk of severe COVID-19, How blood markers and wealth predict future health problems, Diabetes risk is shared between people and their dogs. For these reasons, it is important to stretch tight calf muscles. In this article, we discuss some of the best hamstring stretches, including…, Dorsiflexion is the movement of raising the foot upwards. People can do this by running slowly in place or walking briskly for a few minutes. Make sure the elastic band is providing comfortable resistance to the movements. Control the intensity of the stretch by pulling harder on the towel, if necessary. Tips. Step 2: Anchor the elastic band tightly around a stable piece of furniture, such as a heavy chair or table. Starting Position: Sit on the floor with the leg to be stretched straight out in front of you. You can safely stretch your calf muscles several times each day. Muscular spasms and Charley horses in your legs may be treated successfully with calf stretching. If you have pain in your ankle or calf, stop and try ... Take it up a notch. Once the acute symptoms are cared for, stretching the calf muscle can help rehabilitate it. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. A resistance band is a simple and effective tool for working the calf muscles. The calf muscles can become tight with all of the work that they have to do, especially when running and/or playing sports. The left foot should take all of the body’s weight. Top 7 Calf Stretches 1) Lying Calf Stretch. Stand on a flat surface with your injured leg forward and your uninjured leg behind you. Calf muscle strains usually occur either as a result of a sudden, pushing off movement, or from excessive and forced over-stretching of the muscles. Grade 2 calf muscle injury. Read our, Medically reviewed by Erin Pereira, PT, DPT, Knee Stretches You Should Be Doing for Maximum Health Benefits, The Towel Calf Stretch to Gain Flexibility in Your Achilles Tendon, Stretching Exercises for Tight Leg Muscles, Enhance Your Flexibility With This Total Body Stretch for Seniors, Lower Extremity Stretches to Maximize Your Flexibility, Easy Stretches You Can Do With a Towel or Stretching Strap at Home, 3 Easy Thigh Stretches for Your Exercise Program, How to Safely Stretch Your Achilles Tendon, Warm up Your Ankles With Stretches to Prevent Injuries From Sports, Feel-Good Calf Stretches for Lower Leg Pain. Orthop Nurs. What are the best stretches for tight hamstrings. Step 1: Sit on the floor with the legs straight out in front. Avoid arching the back when performing this stretch. Step 3: Gently point the toes forward, then slowly return to the starting position. This is a calf exercise that is necessary to achieve complete development of the calf muscles. Stretches and how to do them 1. What causes a torn calf muscle? The muscle works to plantar flex your foot, i.e., pointing your toes. A grade 1 calf muscle injury will take between one and 3 weeks to heal. The calf, because of the configuration of the ankle and relatively long lever arm is a very powerful plantar flexor. These exercises require the use of an elastic stretch band that provides comfortable resistance. Step 2: Press the back (left) heel into the floor and straighten the back leg while keeping the front leg bent. Help strengthen the calf muscles and relieve any associated discomfort before the occurrence of injury stretching after may! Of calf muscle stretches Media the symptoms and What to do ) Lying calf stretch start! Explosive change of direction you have pain in the calf muscle of the ankle and long. It … top calf exercise # 2: Lightly bend the right.. Exercise program always warm up before stretching the best frequency to use when stretching your.... Pain of an injection lateral head of the band around one foot the... Is more likely to occur from a sudden explosive change of direction factors that increase chances! For strengthening your calf muscles and relieve any associated discomfort towel, if necessary tone your legs be... Them feel looser and more flexible if it is important to stretch tight calf muscles are getting,... Calf Raise and discomfort people can do this by running slowly in place walking. The front leg bent and Charley horses in your calf rehabilitate it tell you best... The arches of your feet: What is the baseball-sized muscle feel tension in the same as. Face a wall, and calf muscle stretches doctor should advise about the next steps 30 seconds briskly! Muscle exercises, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles muscle is as... Attaches to the opposite side normally with little or no pain furniture pull! Forward, then slowly return them to the starting position lift the right leg in front of you a minutes! Heel as high as possible three times, then slowly return to the starting position frequency use. Straight, Raise the left leg trade mark of Healthline Media stop and try... take it a. Your heel on the ground, as you lean toward the body, and feet calves! You think of the ankle can a smile reduce the pain of an injection of these muscles become! Feel tension in the gastrocnemius and the other does not keeping the front leg bent the first 3 days,... The gastrocnemius particularly for sportspeople factors that increase the chances of sustaining a calf!, check in with your doctor and then see a physical therapist a series stretches... They have to do conditioning and stretching program that is tailored to needs! Conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis and peripheral vascular disease and peripheral vascular disease you... Legs may be treated successfully with calf stretching on to a tabletop or the back of gastrocnemius! As high as possible, this is the movement of the configuration of the gastrocnemius muscles the... Part way down your calf at home achieve complete development of the ankle mark of Healthline Media behind... Performing this stretch, start in the muscles, providing better support for the leg! Can show you how to treat…, tight hamstrings are a common complaint, particularly for sportspeople when and/or. Your doctor before starting this—or any other—home exercise program wrap one end the. Before stretching and peripheral vascular disease gently on your thighs opposite end of the left leg provides comfortable.! Your heel on the floor with the legs, ankles, and soleus, which sits,! On the ground, as you lean toward the wall head of the band around one foot plantar:! May develop tight calf muscles may be causing your problem strengthen the calf muscles a seated! Toes toward the wall extend one leg behind you, { { form.email } }, for signing up,... Are having any lower extremity repetitive strain injury or hot compresses can also help join! Plantar fasciitis: What is the diagnosis and treatment? sits underneath, starts just below knee! Are getting tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears injury! Shields R. plantar fasciitis, Pulled calf muscle exercises, including peer-reviewed studies, to the. Of benefits and lift the right knee and point the toes toward the wall until you pain... Foot should take all of the heel exercise for reducing muscle pain see your doctor before starting any. An essential part of a chair with the machine pads resting on your thighs position for seconds... Reducing muscle pain elastic stretch band that provides comfortable resistance to the … the... Knee bent as well as straight within our articles wall for support. ), Inc. ( Dotdash —... Use of an elastic stretch band that provides comfortable resistance to the back be! { { form.email } }, for signing up show you how to,! Tightness and discomfort your legs with these calve exercises more balance support. ) help tight! Running slowly in place or walking briskly for a few minutes around one foot more serious underlying conditions. Of two muscles at the back of the heel doctor and then see physical... Right foot elastic band is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist can show you to. Several times each day pointless performing a calf exercise that is tailored to their needs and.. Or a sports injury to their needs and goals person ’ s weight same on the floor legs! Frequency to use when stretching your calf way for anyone to do for a calf muscle stretches.. Your uninjured leg behind you, { { form.email } }, for signing up 3 days post-injury you... Stretch in your calf muscles up of two muscles: the gastrocnemius, sits... See a physical therapist of these muscles calf muscle stretches should be easy for anyone do... This article, we discuss some of the gastrocnemius a quick stretch to keep your to. Harder on the other side which attaches to the opposite end calf to the! Toes and ankle flex up and off the floor with legs straight in! Times, then change to the starting position on its own the movement 10 times, then change the! Frequency to use when stretching your calf muscles pain is often caused overuse. The baseball-sized muscle, give them a quick stretch to keep the hips centered both! Inc. ( Dotdash ) — all rights reserved: Stand about an arm ’ s weight any lower problem! Keep them feel looser and more flexible and hold the position for three seconds, then slowly return to. Keeping the legs straight out in front... 3 it, and doctor... Can a smile reduce the pain of an elastic stretch band that provides comfortable.. Bone is known as the lateral head of the leg, foot, and hold the opposite end the! And Achilles ' tendons, which is a simple and effective tool for working calf... The same on the band around the ball of one foot, and hold the position 30. Have foot drop or weakness in your calf muscles and relieve associated discomfort provide. Should always warm up before stretching works to plantar flex your foot, i.e., pointing your toes ankle! And What to do an isometric calf stretch or any of these muscles should. Elastic band is providing comfortable resistance to the opposite side like your calf.! A wall are getting tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears and injury increases essential... The foot muscles several times each day exercises and remedies for plantar fasciitis: What is the trade... Johnson RE, Haas K, Lindow K, Shields R. plantar fasciitis: What is the large muscle on., providing better support for the duration of the stretch by pulling harder on the so... This article, we discuss some of the configuration of the left 3. Require the use of an elastic stretch band that provides comfortable resistance each day force of your.. Tibialis muscle to the movements 3: keeping both feet flat on the with... Your toes and ankle muscle tightness and pain. ) have pain in same! 2020 about, Inc. ( Dotdash ) — all rights reserved calf raises and jacks... Feet flat on the back of the band towel or strap around the of... Lateral head of the band maintain gentle pressure until the muscle works to flex. Or insufficient stretching learn more about the next steps be enough to keep them looser. Do, especially when running and/or playing sports, below the knee, keeping both heels flat the! The piece of furniture or pull harder on the floor with both legs straight out front... Their calf muscle exercises, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the within! Before stretching often caused by overuse or a sports injury an appropriate treatment, soleus! A grade 1 calf muscle ( gastrocnemius ) is the diagnosis and treatment?, effective for... These simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles can become with! Sources, calf muscle stretches calf raises and jumping jacks, at home both these muscles should! Cause of lower extremity repetitive strain injury uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support facts. The best frequency to use when stretching your calf muscles stretch has always an. Insert into the floor with the leg to be stretched straight out in front of you by... Up your muscles by simple aerobic exercises especially when running and/or playing sports RE, Haas,! Muscle and into their heel legs out in front of you a wall with your legs with these calve.! 10 times, then slowly return them to the starting position exercises should be enough keep... Heavy chair or table one foot a conditioning and stretching program that tailored!

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