4 Best Calf Stretches
Taking a few moments to perform the following best calf stretches to prevent injuries can get you back up and running. Muscle tears are extremely serious and are one of those injuries that often reoccur when you return to the sports field too quickly. Physiotherapists take time and caution to grade calf strain injuries accordingly based off of many aspects. For instance, at Grade 1, the muscle will be apparently stretched, which causes small micro tears in the muscle fibres. At Grade 2, the recovery process becomes more extensive due to partial tearing of the fibres – and this is with good rehabilitative care. At Grade 3, the calf strain is a serious and there will be a complete tearing or rupture of muscle fibres in the lower leg. At this point, you may even be facing time with a surgeon to get to the bottom of things.
So, you may ask yourself, how can I care for myself when I believe there is a strain on my calf muscles? There is a process known as RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Everyday stress to your calf can come from walking alone. The calf will, in general, need rest from weight-bearing loads (Miller). Yes, in some cases a tear may be inevitable; yet, the truth remains that a tear does not have to happen. Taking extra precautions to avoid tears can prevent them. Here are some of these best calf stretches that can help you prevent calf muscle tears.
The Active Calf Stretch
In the early stages of a calf injury, you may find it bearable to do something known as “active stretching.” On our list of best calf stretches this is the gentlest on the muscle and helps the muscles work in pairs as they contract in the front and relax in the back. There are two different ways to do these calf stretches that will work on two separate parts of the leg.
First, one must understand what the Gastrocnemius muscle is and the role it plays. It is a powerful superficial muscle that is in the back part of the lower leg and is primarily involved in running and jumping. To stretch this muscle you must sit on the floor or a chair with your leg out in front of you. Start by pulling your toes and foot back towards you, holding for a few seconds and then relaxing. You should repeat this 10-20 times.
But, what happens if you want to stretch the Soleus muscle? This muscle is a powerful muscle located in the back part of the lower leg. It is used for standing, walking or “light” exercises in comparison to the Gastrocnemius. To stretch this calf muscle, you should sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Raise your toes and foot up towards you while you keep your heel on the floor, and hold this position for a couple of seconds. Relax and repeat this calf stretch about 10-20 times.
The Gastrocnemius Calf Stretch
This is the next of our best calf stretches. To stretch this particular muscle, your back leg must be kept straight throughout the process. You should stand with the stretching leg at the back and hands on a wall at shoulder height. Bend your front knee and lean forward, keeping your back knee straight and pushing the heel down into the floor. When you feel the stretch, hold this position for 20 seconds. Do not push yourself too hard in these early stages.
The Soleus Calf Stretch
If you are seeking a stretch that will help the soleus muscles, the knee of the leg will have to be bent during the stretch. You should lean against a wall with the stretching leg at the back. Bend your knee, keeping the heel in contact with the ground until a stretch is felt. You should hold this position for about 20 seconds and repeat it three times (SIC).
The Sitting Calf Stretch
You may find it difficult to stretch standing up, given your circumstances with the calf condition. You can try an exercise, then, where you begin sitting on the floor with your leg straight out in front of you and a towel around your foot. You can pull your toes towards you and pull on the towel until you feel your calf stretching. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. This will help stretch the gastrocnemius muscle (KPE).
No matter what your specific situation and strain that is felt on the calf, there is always an exercise plan that will work for you. Preventing calf strains and tears with these best calf stretches for runners and athletes is the best way to lead the productive lifestyle that you strive for. At OS1st, we care about your well being as it pertains to a more healthy and injury-free life.
John Miller. Physio Works, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 14, 2015. http://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/calf-muscle-tears
SIC. Sports Injury Clinic, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 14, 2015. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/ankle-achilles-shin-pain/calf-strain/calf-strain-stretching-exercises
KPE. Knee Pain Explained, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 14, 2015. http://www.knee-pain-explained.com/calf-stretches.html