Calf stretches can open the tight network of lower leg muscles that sometimes seize up after overuse or other underlying factors. You may forget to give attention to this area when stretching, concentrating instead on the larger muscle groups like the thigh, hamstring and buttocks. However, be sure and remember to stretch your calves using the easy and effective exercises.
Calf Stretch Tips:
- Hold Time: Work up to holding each stretch for 20 seconds or more.
- Set Count: Three to five sets of holding a stretch, per leg.
- Breathe: Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth during each stretch.
1. Step Drop Stretch
Find a street curb or stairway step. Place the ball of your foot on the end of the ledge. Slowly drop your heal down while keeping the ball of your foot on the step. Be sure and support yourself if you can or have someone to grab onto. Once you get the hang of it you should be able to do this stretch without any assistance. As you bring your heel down, be sure not to force it further than it wants to go. Your goal is to be able to have your heel touch the ground, but this may take time.
2. Towel Pull
This stretch is best done barefoot. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and your knees locked. Wrap a hand towel around the ball of your foot and hold each side of the towel. Keep your back straight and slowly lean back while pulling on the towel. When you feel a slight burn in the muscle, hold.
3. Runner's Stretch
This stretch mainly opens the gastrocnemius, this is the dual head muscle that makes up the outer calf. With your arms extended and your back straight, place both palms on a sturdy surface, preferably a wall. Put the calf you want to stretch behind you, being sure to keep your heel pressed to the floor and the leg extended without bending the knee. The other leg is in a lunged forward position in between the wall and the extended leg. Keeping your heel down, slowly bend your elbows and lean forward.
4. Runner's Stretch with Twist
This is the same form as the above runner's stretch, but after you start the stretch, twist the hips and hold. Your foot can twist as well, but be sure to keep the heel on the floor and be very careful of your knees.
5. Mock Sit
This stretch targets the soleus muscle which lies directly below the gastrocnemius. Take the beginning stance of the runner's stretch. Drop your hips and buttocks as if sitting in a chair, bending at the knees. Lean forward and do not raise your heels.
Calf Pain Remedy
Calf pain and muscle cramping in general can be caused by many things, but low magnesium is currently considered one of the major factors. Most people are deficient of this mineral and can unnecessarily take anti-inflammatory or pain medicine when all they may need is 400 milligrams of magnesium. Check with your doctor if you have muscle cramping to learn whether magnesium is a good start for a remedy. Do keep in mind that over-consumption of magnesium can cause diarrhea.