People who are running, cycling and working out often usually suffer from tight calf muscles. Calf muscles or termed as the gastrocnemius, are the muscles located on the back of the lower leg and is commonly seen as tensed when women wear their high heels often. When calf muscles become tight, they do not only lead to aesthetic problems on the legs, but they also lead to more concerning discomfort in the legs, knees, feet, lower back and hips. When the calf muscles tighten, they also aggravate tightness on the rest of the muscle groups in the legs, back and shoulders. In order to prevent these, stretching the calf muscles is optimal.
Stretching the calf muscles should not only be done by those who have calf tightness, but as well as those who don’t experience it because stretching the muscles is very essential. If you are one of those who want to know how to stretch their calf muscles effectively, here are the most effective calf stretches that you can do:
• Heel calf stretch
To do this stretch, place one foot on the lowest step of a staircase and the other foot on the next higher step. Make sure that the heel on the lowest step is just hanging. Slowly drop the heels until a stretch is felt on the calf muscle. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and release. Repeat the steps with the feet on reverse positions.
• Heel calf stretch with bent knee
This stretch is similar to the first stretch only that you try to bend your knees as your heel is slowly dropping off the edge of the staircase. This is actually a deeper stretch, but make sure to stabilize yourself better.
• Seat forward bend
This is a relatively easy stretch to employ while you are in your office. First, stand in front of a chair or desk. Use stationary seats because wheeled seats may cause falls. Make sure you are standing hip-width apart. Lean forward and grab the sides of the chair with both arms. This position will help stretch your back muscles and calf. Maintain the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.
• Dorsiflexion of the foot
One classical way to stretch the calf muscles is to straighten the knees and flex the foot towards the shin. First, sit on the floor, bed or you can place your one leg on another chair when seated. Straighten your legs so it is parallel to the floor. Bend one foot inwards and feel the stretch in your calf. To have full control on your stretch you can place a towel across the ball of the foot and grab the two ends of the towel. Pull the towel until the desired stretch is attained. Repeat on the other leg.
• Prone stretch
This calf stretch is done while lying. First, lie on your abdomen with the face facing the ground. Next, slowly raise your upper torso while you lift your arms behind you. As you do these, slowly lift one leg off the ground. Maintain the position for at least 20 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
These stretches are very effective in increasing the flexibility of the calf muscles. Do one or more of these stretches before and after exercising or while doing nothing to help reduce the tightness of your calf muscles.