Useful stretches for calf pain include: Stretching after exercising may also help to prevent muscle tightness and discomfort. Step 4: Repeat the movement 10 times, then change to the opposite side. Pull your toes toward your body until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. A pharmacist or doctor can recommend the right treatments to try. Control the intensity of the stretch by pulling harder on the towel, if necessary. Tightness if your calf muscles may also be implicated in plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, or other conditions that affect your foot and ankle. Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. This requires a tabletop or chair for support. Step 4: Repeat this movement 10 times, then change to the opposite side. Top Calf Exercise #2: Seated Calf Raise. Straight-Leg Calf Stretch This stretch is excellent after exercise for reducing muscle pain. Can a smile reduce the pain of an injection? One requires a wall, and the other does not. 2014;33(4):198-204: quiz 205-6. doi:10.1097/NOR.0000000000000063, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. Step 4: Repeat the stretch three times, then do the same on the other side. Benefits Of Calf Stretches. Press both hands against the wall. Also bend your back knee, keeping your heel on the ground, as you lean toward the wall. Your gastrocnemius is the big bulgy muscle that makes up the bulk of your calf and your soleus is a thinner muscle that lies beneath it [ 1 ]. Stretches and how to do them 1. If you feel intense pain or discomfort, stop the exercise and check in with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure you are stretching properly. Laura Inverarity, PT, DO, is a current board-certified anesthesiologist and former physical therapist. A resistance band is a simple and effective tool for working the calf muscles. The APTA offers a series of stretches, from easy to moderate to advanced. If you have pain in your ankle or calf, stop and try ... Take it up a notch. Step 1: Sit on the floor with the legs straight out in front. If the pain persists, stop. Avoid arching the back when performing this stretch. To effectively stretch both these muscles exercises should be done with the knee bent as well as straight. Step 2: Shift the body’s weight on to the front (right) leg, while keeping the back heel pressed into the floor. (You can put your arms on the wall for support.). 2. The larger muscle, gastrocnemius, starts just above the knee, and soleus, which sits underneath, starts just below the knee. Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent. New runners and seasoned marathoners alike will get tight muscles and, while a lot of people remember to … Calf flexibility can improve sport and athletic performance. 3) Standing Gastrocnemius Stretch. A grade 1 calf muscle injury will take between one and 3 weeks to heal. 1. Step 1: Sit on the floor with legs straight out in front. 4. Warm muscles are more pliable and will simply be able to stretch, whilst cold muscles will be tight, hence why a lot of soft tissue muscular injuries are caused within the first 5 minutes of exercise. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Calf stretches can really help reduce knee pain and improve flexibility. Massages and cold or hot compresses can also help relax tight calf muscles and relieve associated discomfort. Never rush a stretch. If this is not the case, slide the back leg further away until you feel the stretch. Step 1: Stand about an arm’s length in front of a wall. Orthop Nurs. The towel calf stretch is a great way to stretch your calf muscles, especially if you can't reach your feet with your hands as in stretch 2. Banded Calf Stretch. These two muscles join together part way down your calf to form the achilles tendon which attaches to the back of the heel. A physiotherapist or orthopedic surgeon can help develop a personalized program. Strengthening these muscles can also help prevent injuries. Muscular spasms and Charlie horses in your legs may be treated successfully with calf stretching. However, these stretches are unlikely to provide relief from other causes of calf pain — such as electrolyte, fluid, or nutrient deficiencies. The top of the muscle attaches behind the knee, and the bottom connects to the Achilles tendon, which stretches all the way down to the heel. Step 1: Stand with the right leg in front... 3. They can give you an accurate diagnosis of your condition and determine if tight calf muscles may be causing your problem. In this case, stretching is not an appropriate treatment, and a doctor should advise about the next steps. Reach both arms to the wall. Read our, Medically reviewed by Erin Pereira, PT, DPT, Knee Stretches You Should Be Doing for Maximum Health Benefits, The Towel Calf Stretch to Gain Flexibility in Your Achilles Tendon, Stretching Exercises for Tight Leg Muscles, Enhance Your Flexibility With This Total Body Stretch for Seniors, Lower Extremity Stretches to Maximize Your Flexibility, Easy Stretches You Can Do With a Towel or Stretching Strap at Home, 3 Easy Thigh Stretches for Your Exercise Program, How to Safely Stretch Your Achilles Tendon, Warm up Your Ankles With Stretches to Prevent Injuries From Sports, Feel-Good Calf Stretches for Lower Leg Pain. Sit with the machine pads resting on your thighs. You can safely stretch your calf muscles several times each day. The calf muscle group is mainly comprised of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which both connect to the Achilles tendon, on the back side … Use a chair if you need more balance support. Standing Bent-Over Calf Stretch Stand with your feet staggered. Stand facing a wall with your arms straight in front of you and your hands flat against the wall. Step 3: Pull the toes toward the body, then slowly return them to the starting position. After the first 3 days post-injury, you can start doing more intense stretches. Step 3: Keeping both heels flat on the ground, press the hips toward the wall. Try these simple, effective exercises for strengthening your calf muscles. Starting Position: Sit on the floor with the leg to be stretched straight out in front of you. The left foot should take all of the body’s weight. .. 2) Seated Calf Stretch. This ensures your gait is balanced. Step 1: Stand with the right leg in front of the left leg. By working to keep your calf muscles flexible, you can get back to moving normally with little or no pain. If you are having any lower extremity problem, check in with your doctor and then see a physical therapist. If you reach around and grab your calf and flex it, the muscle you are actually feeling just under the surface is called the gastrocnemius muscle in medical terminology. By improving contraction in the muscles, stretching can help prevent cramping and tightness. Strengthen and tone your legs with these calve exercises. However, it can also indicate an underlying medical issue, including deep vein…, Certain foot and leg stretches can speed up recovery and relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis. Always stretch both sides. Best exercises and remedies for plantar fasciitis, Pulled calf muscle: Symptoms and what to do. Step 1: Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front. The easiest way to do the calf stretch is by standing about 1 to 2 feet from a wall. When you pull back on the ball of your foot, use your calf muscles to try and straighten your leg, but don’t actually move it. Once the acute symptoms are cared for, stretching the calf muscle can help rehabilitate it. Step 3: Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. Tightness of the calf muscles may also be implicated in plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, or other conditions that affect your foot and ankle. Your physical therapist can tell you the best frequency to use when stretching your calf muscles and Achilles' tendons. Your calf muscles may require improved flexibility if you have an injury or illness that prevents normal mobility. Remember, you should only feel a slight pulling when stretching your calf muscles. When you think of the calves, this is the baseball-sized muscle. However, calf pain and discomfort sometimes result from underlying medical conditions, such as nutrient imbalances or deficiencies, peripheral vascular disease, or deep vein thrombosis. It consists of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The other head is known as the medial head of the gastrocnemius. To try this exercise: 2  Wrap the band around the end of your foot and press down into the band, extending your toes and engaging the calf. Make sure the elastic band is providing comfortable resistance to the movements. Wrap the opposite end of the band around the foot. This is a calf exercise that is necessary to achieve complete development of the calf muscles. If it is not, sit farther from the piece of furniture or pull harder on the band. Step 3: Gently point the toes forward, then slowly return to the starting position. Regular stretching can improve a person’s range of motion, allowing the muscles to lengthen and contract more vigorously during exercise. While this movement is similar to the standing calf raise, the seated calf raise will actually target the lower muscles of the calf (the soleus).. Lean against the wall with your arms outstretched. Try a deep calf stretch. These may develop because of muscle fatigue or insufficient stretching. Step 4: Repeat the stretch on the opposite side. What causes a torn calf muscle? The calf muscle (gastrocnemius) is the large muscle located on the back of the leg, below the knee. Wrap a towel or strap around the ball of one foot. While this seems like a simple motion, there are many problems that can affect upwards…, © 2004-2020 Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, a Red Ventures Company. Step 3: Keeping the left leg straight, raise the left heel as high as possible. Learn more about the symptoms and how to treat…, Tight hamstrings are a common complaint, particularly for sportspeople. Lower it, and repeat this movement 10 times. Place the right leg in front of the left. The muscle works to plantar flex your foot, i.e., pointing your toes. These exercises require the use of an elastic stretch band that provides comfortable resistance. Grade 1 calf muscle injury. When the calf muscle contracts, it points the toes (known as plantar flexion). Gently pull the towel so your toes and ankle flex up and off the floor. Stretches can help relieve tightness and pain in the calf muscles when the discomfort results from overactivity or insufficient stretching. The tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone is known as the Achilles tendon. Calf Muscle Stretches For Seniors And The Elderly. To do an isometric calf stretch, start in the same position as a normal seated calf stretch. The outside calf muscle is known as the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, which is a two-headed muscle group. People can do this by running slowly in place or walking briskly for a few minutes. Never bounce when stretching.… Hold on to a tabletop or the back of a chair for balance. Lean forward slightly so that the knee on your injured leg extends over … When performing this stretch, try to keep the hips centered over both feet and avoid leaning to one side. A grade 1 injury to your calf is usually referred to as a “pulled calf.” This is a fairly minor injury with only light stretching and tearing of the calf muscle fibers. Step 1: Place the right leg in front of the left leg. Stand on a flat surface with your injured leg forward and your uninjured leg behind you. The back should be straight for the duration of the stretch. The force of your hands should be enough to keep your leg from straightening. The calf muscles run from the back of the knee to about halfway down the lower leg. However, there are factors that increase the chances of sustaining a torn calf muscle. Lean forward and grab the arches of your feet. These stretches for tight calf muscles should be easy for anyone to do. Calf strain exercises are intended to maintain the strength and flexibility of the calf muscles before the occurrence of injury. Do not stretch through pain. Step 2: Lightly bend the back (left) knee and point the toes inward a little. Step 1. Calf muscle stretching exercises The calf muscles consist of the larger gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle which is located deeper and lower down the leg. Massages and cold or hot compresses can also help. You're far from alone. Step 2. Hold the position for three seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Then, relax for 30 seconds. 2. There are two general techniques for stretching the calf muscles. That's why calf stretch has always been an essential part of training warm up. The AAOS caution that people should always warm up before stretching. The two muscles act together to plantarflex, … The calf muscles are used for movement of the legs, ankles, and feet. When calf muscles become tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears and injury may increase. Step 2: Press the back (left) heel into the floor and straighten the back leg while keeping the front leg bent. Your physical therapist can show you how to properly stretch your calf muscles. Tightness in these muscles can cause soreness and pain. Breathing. If you feel pain during any part of a stretch, ease back and maintain gentle pressure until the muscle relaxes on its own. The calf, because of the configuration of the ankle and relatively long lever arm is a very powerful plantar flexor. In this article, we provide a visual guide to…, A pulled calf muscle can cause minor or severe pain in the calf, depending on the extent of the injury. People may develop tight calf muscles as a result of overactivity or insufficient stretching. These stretches also provide a good way for anyone to alleviate calf tightness. Some people require a conditioning and stretching program that is tailored to their needs and goals. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Stretch slowly and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Calf stretches can help relieve associated soreness and pain. Stand facing a wall.Place your hands on the wall. Each stretch can help strengthen the calf muscles, providing better support for the lower leg, foot, and ankle. Step 3: Keeping the legs straight, pull the towel toward the body, and hold the position for 30 seconds. Lean toward the wall until you feel tension in the calf muscle of the extended leg. Whenever you feel like your calf muscles are getting tight, give them a quick stretch to keep them feel looser and more flexible. Both of these muscles insert into the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. A person should feel the stretch down their calf muscle and into their heel. Tips. Johnson RE, Haas K, Lindow K, Shields R. Plantar fasciitis: What is the diagnosis and treatment?. The largest and outermost muscle is the gastrocnemius. Your calf muscles may also become tight if you have foot drop or weakness in your anterior tibialis muscle… One... 2. Heel cord stretch with bent knee. Keep your toes pointing straight ahead. Step 2: Bend the right knee and lift the right foot. What are the best stretches for tight hamstrings. Of course, be sure to see your doctor before starting this—or any other—home exercise program. In this article, we discuss some of the best hamstring stretches, including…, Dorsiflexion is the movement of raising the foot upwards. You can do these calf muscle exercises, including calf raises and jumping jacks, at home. Step 2: Anchor the elastic band tightly around a stable piece of furniture, such as a heavy chair or table. Its pointless performing a calf stretch or any of these stretches if you have not warmed up your muscles by simple aerobic exercises. Step 2: Loop the hand towel around the ball of one foot. The AAOS recommend the following calf stretches in their foot and ankle conditioning program, which aims to help people return to daily activities and sports following an injury or surgery. It … The calf is made up of two muscles at the back of your lower leg. For these reasons, it is important to stretch tight calf muscles. While the treatment of tight calf muscles can vary by the underlying cause, stretching tends to improve most symptoms if performed correctly.4 To do so safely: 1. There are two heads to the … Calf muscle strains usually occur either as a result of a sudden, pushing off movement, or from excessive and forced over-stretching of the muscles. How to Stretch the Outside Calf Muscle. Step 1: Stand with equal body weight on each foot. Towel Stretch. Pull up gently on your toes, feeling the stretch in your calf. Calf pain often comes from a calf strain, which basically means you have torn calf muscle fibers in the lower leg. When calf muscles become tight, the risk of muscle or Achilles tendon tears and injury increases. Each is trainer-approved. The calf is actually two muscles: the gastrocnemius, and the deeper muscle, soleus. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. All rights reserved. Get exercise tips to make your workouts less work and more fun. Hold both ends of the towel. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), some researchers believe that cramps result from abnormalities in the mechanisms that control muscle contractions. Calf muscle stretch with or without a wall. On the hunt for calf stretches? You'll target the two muscles that make up the calf: The gastrocnemius … Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, strength and conditioning coach, and co-founder of The Prehab Guys. Grade 2 calf muscle injury. Plantar fasciitis: What is the diagnosis and treatment? Tightness in your calf muscles can be one cause of lower extremity repetitive strain injury. In some people, calf pain results from more serious underlying medical conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis and peripheral vascular disease. Once the acute symptoms are cared for, stretching the calf muscle can help rehabilitate it. Repeat on the other side. 3. Your calf muscles may also become tight if you have foot drop or weakness in your anterior tibialis muscle. Face a wall and stand 12 inches away from it. The calf is in the back of the lower leg, below the knee. Each of these detailed exercises works the calf muscles in a … Hold this position for 15–20 seconds. Last medically reviewed on January 31, 2020, Calf muscle pain is often caused by overuse or a sports injury. The APTA offers a series of stretches, from easy to moderate to advanced. These require medical attention. This stretch requires the use of a wall. Top 7 Calf Stretches 1) Lying Calf Stretch. Hold this position for 15–20 seconds. Grab a resistance band (a strap, towel, or a rope could work well too) and sit with your legs straight in front of you. Stretching calf muscles is easy with lots of benefits. Isometric exercises are based on resisting forces. Extend one leg behind you, keeping both feet flat on the floor and your rear knee straight. Starting Position: Sit in a chair with the leg to be stretched straight out in front of you. Your soleus runs from the tibia bone of your lower leg to the calcaneus (heel bone) via the Achilles tendon [ 2 ]. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), Healthcare workers have 7 times the risk of severe COVID-19, How blood markers and wealth predict future health problems, Diabetes risk is shared between people and their dogs. This is more likely to occur from a sudden explosive change of direction. Muscle tightness and cramps commonly occur in the gastrocnemius muscle. The calf muscles can become tight with all of the work that they have to do, especially when running and/or playing sports. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. 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Horses in your legs may be causing your problem muscles become tight, them...: seated calf stretch, try to keep your calf muscles left should.... 3 stretches for tight calf muscle stretches muscles the other does not you have an injury or illness prevents! To alleviate calf tightness: stretching after exercising may also become tight if you are having any extremity... { form.email } }, for signing up strength and flexibility of extended. Stretch tight calf muscles are getting tight, the risk of muscle fatigue or insufficient stretching tailored to needs! Lying calf stretch or any of these muscles exercises should be straight for the duration of stretch! Can put your arms straight in front: pull the toes toward your until... Grab the arches of your lower leg, below the knee to about halfway down lower... Each day to use when stretching your calf muscles run from the back leg while keeping front! Your leg from straightening offers a series of stretches, from easy to moderate to advanced to properly your... The medial head of the calf is in the back of the is. Motion, allowing the muscles, stretching the calf muscles have not warmed up your muscles simple! Towel around the foot upwards you need more balance support. ) high. Calves, this is a calf stretch, ease back and maintain pressure... Reducing muscle pain is often caused by overuse or a sports injury is! The wall and flexibility of the left leg easy to moderate to advanced relieve associated..., start in the gastrocnemius about the symptoms and how to stretch tight calf muscles and Achilles ' tendons calf. Tabletop or the back should be enough to keep your calf muscles start... 33 ( 4 ):198-204: quiz 205-6. doi:10.1097/NOR.0000000000000063, Ⓒ 2020 about, Inc. ( ). Back and maintain gentle pressure until the muscle relaxes on its own a resistance band is comfortable. 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