Calf Muscle Stretch
The calves can often become tight and when they do they can become quite uncomfortable and often lead to more significant and chronic problems including plantar fasciitis.
The calves muscles most commonly tight are the two main muscles of the lower leg: gastrocnemius and soleus.
Gastrocnemius is the shapely upper calf muscle. It is sometimes so developed that you can easily see the two muscle bellies which make up this muscle. Gastrocs as they are often referred to, flex the foot at the ankle, meaning we use them when we rise onto out tip toes and also bend the knee at the ankle.
The soleus muscle is deeper to gastrocs and also flexes the ankle and foot.
Both muscles are attached to the Achille’s tendon.
Tight calves and foot pain
When the belly of the calf muscles gets tight, perhaps from inflexibility or overuse, they can cause pain at the back or base heel, or into the sole of the foot.
There are several different lower leg and foot injuries most commonly seen by massage therapists and they are Achille’s tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis. Both can be relieved through massage and stretching to the gastrocs and soleus muscles.
Self massage techniques are also taught to clients such as foot massage with a spiky ball, which can ease tension in the connective tissue of the foot and help reduce feelings of tightness in the foot itself, but also indirectly up into the calf as well.
Easy calf stretches
Calves are fairly easy to stretch in a standing position, which is great as it is so easy to fit regularly into your day.
Standing into a lunge position, keeping the weight in the back heel and the back foot facing straight forward, a stretch should be felt in the upper calf muscle, or gastrocnemius.
Tight calves may create a feeling of restriction at the ankle, so take your time to ease into it, keep balanced and the pelvis level and hold onto something if you feel at all unbalanced.
The soleus muscle requires you to take a small split stance and bend both legs, keeping the weight over the back leg. As before, keep the pelvis level, the back foot facing forward and the heel on the ground.
An alternative strtech for both muscles is to use the wall or a small step.
To stretch gastrocs, pop your toes against the wall or a kerb and keeping the leg straight and try to close the front of the ankle to stretch the upper part of the calf. To stretch soleus, place the foot on the floor close to the wall and bend your knee forwards, keeping the heel on the ground. This one should feel like it is stretching lower down in the calf.
Hold both stretches for around 30 seconds, until you feel the muscle release. Perform regularly.
Melbourne Natural Therapies
Calf Muscle Stretch
Remedial Massage Melbourne