Stretching is a very useful tool in alleviating tight muscles, loosening up before or after a workout, or just for general wellbeing. However, some muscles are much harder to stretch than others, and not stretching them can cause problems. The calf muscle, for example, can be very difficult to stretch if you don’t know how. Below you will find some tips on how to finally get the calf muscle good and stretched out.
Having a tight Achilles tendon (calf muscle) can case numerous foot problems. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and is made of two muscles combining together to form the tendon that inserts into the back of the heel. The first muscle is the gastrocnemius muscle. It originated from above the knee. The other is the soleus muscle which originates form the back of the lower leg.
When it comes to stretching these muscles there are two similar, but slightly different techniques. The traditional runners stretch against the wall is very affective, and the way you stretch both muscles is first by stretching with the knee locked, which stretches the gastrocnemius muscle, and the other is the same stretch but modified by slightly bending the knee to stretch the soleus muscle. This is done to slack the gastrocnemius muscle because if crosses the knee, and now you are only isolating the soleus muscle.
Give it a try and you will notice the difference. With the knee locked you will feel the stretch more closely to the knee and with the knee slightly bent you will feel the stretch lower in the calf.
The other key thing that I often see patients do wrong with this stretch is not keeping the heel on the ground and the foot perpendicular to the wall. By lifting the heel, you are not fully stretching the tendon, and by having your foot turned outward you are doing what we call pronating your foot and putting more stress on the foot and other tendons. So, I always recommend keeping the heel flat on the ground and the foot strait. When you first start stretching start closer to the wall, and as you stretch more you can get more aggressive by moving away from the wall and leaning in more.
I hope these tips helped you learn how to stretch your calf muscle better. Give it a try, comment how it went or with any questions, and enjoy the stretch!