Calf Stretch Routine
Stretching is an important aspect of any exercise routine. Stretching before and after exercise is commonly believed to reduce the chance of injury, decrease delayed onset muscle soreness and also increase the range of motion (rom) in joints.
When the calf muscle is tight it limits the amount of motion around the ankle, specifically dorsiflexion. To compensate for this decreased range of motion the foot is forced to pronate (roll in) in order to walk effectively.
When starting a stretching routine it is best to warm up the area that is to be stretched. This increased the blood flow to the area and also increased the temperature of the muscle. When muscles are warm they are more elastic and more accepting of a stretch.
Below is an example of a good calf stretching routine.
Calf Stretching Routine:
1 – Warm Up – Calf Raises (both legs)
Raise and lower both legs on the edge of a ledge (stairs, gutter) together and repeat this 15 times. Each up and down motion should be performed in a controlled motion and take approximately 1 second for the up and 1 second for the down section. If you can’t perform 15 raises, start with 10 and then increase this as your strength increases.
You will feel a working / warming feeling in the calf muscles and increased warmth in this area.
2 – Calf Stretch – Lower one leg on the edge of a ledge and hold
Duration: 15 seconds
Do Not: Bounce, rock or sway. The idea is the keep the tension on the muscle for the entire 15 seconds.
Avoiding Pain and Injury:
At around the 15 second mark of the stretch you will feel increased warmth in the calf muscle. This is normal, however stretching should never be painful. If you are painful the day following this routine you have overstretched and you should cut down this routine.
Advanced Calf Stretching:
When you are successfully finishing the above routine with little effort it is time to increase the intensity. (this would usually be in about 1-2 weeks after performing the initial routine 2-3 times per day).
The steps to increase the intensity of the routine are as follows:
1 – Single Calf Raise – change to single leg calf raises
2 – Increase the duration of the stretch to 1 minute
If you experience any lasting pain or discomfort when performing the above routine it is best to see your podiatrist for an assessment of the area. This stretching routine will increase the strength and flexibility in your calf muscle. This will help to limit over pronation.
When performing any stretching it is best to wear a good quality enclosed sneaker with a soft supportive insole.