There are a lot of reasons why you should stretch your calves regularly, and it is something that often gets overlooked. Regardless of whether you want to prepare for exercise or want to maintain regular bodily function, you should incorporate calf stretching into your routine.
Depending on the equipment you have available, these are some different calf stretches that you can use to avoid tight calves and ensure that these muscles are working as they should be.
Why Stretch Your Calves?
Tightness in the calves is a surprisingly common experience, and some people might not even be aware that they are suffering from it.
Those who are involved in more cardio-based workouts like jogging or walking long distances will need to stretch their calves and other muscles before and after exercising. It can allow the calves to work properly, and prevent them from cramping.
In addition, it is worth taking the time to carefully stretch out the calves to prevent injury and strengthen the muscles of the lower leg. Those who enjoy more cardio rely on their calves heavily, and stretching them thoroughly can help support the feet better.
Using A Chair
If you have a strong chair that you can use, then you could stretch your calves using this. Starting around the back of the chair so that it looks like you are standing behind someone who is sitting down, you can use this for an enhanced lunge stretch that will help your calves greatly. Holding onto the top of the chair’s back, get into a lunge position.
With your feet, shoulder-width apart, place one ahead of the other and check that both feet are pointed in the direction that the chair is facing. Using your front leg, gradually lean forward without lifting your heels from the ground.
A lot of people find it useful to bend their elbows and use their hips to help them keep this position.
You will know that you are in the right position once you begin to feel a stretch in your calf. Try to hold this for around 60 seconds before switching to the other leg.
If you have access to a raised block around two inches tall, you can use it to stretch your calves. This can be done by standing on the block so that your heels are hanging off, but the majority of your feet are on the block. Then, hold your hands on your hips and try to keep your posture in a straight vertical line.
You can then rise up on your toes, before slowly lowering yourself so that your heels are close but not touching the ground. This can be a highly effective stretch that is easy to increase in difficulty if you choose to use a taller block or do this stretch on one leg at a time.
Elastics can be used to stretch the calves when sitting, which can be a highly effective exercise. They are relatively affordable and versatile, so if you don’t have them it could be worth purchasing. Sitting on the floor, place your legs straight in front of you.
Then, put one of your feet into one end of the elastic and hold the other end in your hands. Begin stretching by slowly pointing your toes forwards before returning to their resting position.
This can help loosen the muscles and allow them to work correctly. Try to do around 10 sets on each foot in order to get the complete range of benefits.
If you enjoy taking deep breaths and practicing mindfulness or meditation during your daily stretches, then you could consider incorporating calf stretches into yoga.
On a yoga mat or whatever surface you have available, position yourself so that you are on your hands and feet, facing downwards. Pushing the body upwards, keep your head facing down so that you form an upside-down V shape with straight arms and legs.
Then, move one foot to place it against the opposite ankle. Slowly lower the heel of your lower foot as much as you comfortably can. Then, relax your heel and place your weight back onto the ball of your foot. Try to repeat this 10-15 times on each leg if possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Tight Calves?
Your calves can begin to feel very tight and difficult to move following overuse. If you haven’t been stretching regularly, have been doing some more intense exercise, or even if you have increased your daily cardio, you might find that your calves are very stiff.
Muscle tears can be more likely if you haven’t taken the time to stretch correctly, and it can happen in older individuals. If you are someone who has taken up a new sport recently, it could be worth taking your stretching routine more seriously.
How Often Should I Stretch My Calves?
It depends on how frequently you exercise, but if you suffer from especially tight calves, it is worth stretching several times per day. Most people prefer to stretch once in the morning, or even a couple of times during the week. It is up to you how much you want to incorporate calf stretches into your routine.
Can I Exercise With Tight Calves?
It isn’t recommended, because you are putting yourself at increased risk of injury. Try to do some simple stretches before doing any type of workout and ensure that you have correctly warmed up all of your muscles.
There are a lot of reasons why you should consider stretching your calves, and it is definitely worth finding a type of stretch that works for you. Incorporate some of these stretches into your daily routine if possible, and you will enjoy the reduced muscle cramping in your lower legs.
Some options include yoga stretches, using elastic bands, or even a chair, so there are a lot of choices to allow you to find something that works best for you.