Your calf muscles are made up of your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles that attach to your heel through your Achilles tendon. There are a number of ways to stretch these muscles so try each of the following and choose the one you find most effective. It can be good to vary which stretch you do on different days too.
When stretching muscles, you should feel a comfortable stretch that should not be painful. Ease into them gently and you should find that the muscle allows you to stretch further as you continue stretching it. You should NOT feel a tearing sensation, pins and needles or numbness.
1) Wall stretch
Stand facing a wall, with one foot infront of the other. Keep both feet pointing towards the wall and the heel of your back foot should remain fixed on the ground.
Lean in towards the wall, keeping the back knee straight, until you can feel a stretch in your gastrocnemius muscle. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat this 3 times. This is shown in Image (a) below.
Bend the back knee to stretch your soleus (b). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat this 3 times.
2) Step Stretch
Lower your heel down off a step keeping the knee straight to stretch gastrocnemius (a) and bend the knee to stretch soleus (b). Hold the stretch 30 seconds and repeat this 3 times. If your ankle is very stiff you may feel this at the front of the ankle. If this is the case the wall stretch may be more appropriate for you.
3) 4 point stretch
This works best for gastrocnemius. On hands and feet with the back straight. Keep one leg bent and the other straight as you ease your heel down towards the ground. Shift your weight slightly over to the straight leg and hold 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
4) Towel stretch
This works best for gastrocnemius. Wrap a towel around the ball of your foot and pull the ends of the towel towards you until you feel a stretch in the calf. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
5) Another wall stretch!
Standing at the wall, put the toes of one foot on the wall keeping your heel on the floor, and try to bring your knee towards the wall, until you feel the stretch in your calf muscles (and not the front of the ankle). Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
*It is advisable to seek advice from your physiotherapist before starting a calf stretching programme for an appropriate assessment and diagnosis.
If you would like some personal advice on any aspect of leg, calf or running problems, you can make an appointment to see Lee at the clinic by calling (01) 6077104, or by email email@example.com.