Two-phased approach for tight calf muscles

Dear Tracie,

I have very tight calf muscles and struggle to do activities such as running, hiking and soccer. Do you have a stretch routine that I could try?


Dear George,

I suggest that you try a daily stretch program for your calves. One of the primary functions for our calf muscles, gastrocnemius and soleus, is plantar flexion. Pointing your toe or pushing off the ground. Your calf muscles allow you to fight off gravity and not topple forward. If you are standing all day then they are working all day and tired muscles often respond by shortening when they are not loaded. Test your range of motion in both of your ankles. You should be able to dorsi flex (toes up) your ankle to a less than 70-degree angle (between your foot and shin) on both sides. Ultimately, you want both ankles to be the same range of motion. Following is a two-phased stretch that can be done after a quick warmup daily. If you feel limited by your calves in your workouts, then you should probably be doing a dynamic (moving) stretch routine before working out.

Calf warmup:

10 drop squats, 10 front lunges, 10 kneeling lunges each side (three sets)

Two-phased calf stretch:

n Stand facing a wall and put your left toe directly against the wall. Your left foot should be perpendicular to the wall. Step your right foot back about two to three feet, press your heel down against the floor and keep foot perpendicular to the wall. Keep your right leg straight. If you cannot feel a strong stretch in the right calf, move your foot farther away from the wall. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, then lift up onto your toes and repeat two times.

n Slide your right foot in towards the wall about one to two feet so that you can press your heel down and bend your right knee at the same time. You should now feel the stretch down closer to your ankle. Hold 20 seconds, lift onto your toes and repeat two times.

Repeat on the other side.

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Kind regards, Tracie

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