Recently, I’ve attempted to make a quite subtle return to running and the gym (in a valiant attempt) to get healthy by shedding a few kilo’s. At times I’ve felt strong, right on target, and confident. But, nothing could have prepared me for the pain in my calves caused by muscle fatigue due to weakness and tightness. So I’d like to take the time to discuss basic exercises to strengthen and stretch the calve muscles and solve these problems…
Calf muscle anatomy
Gastrocnemius (Gastrocs): is the muscle which has two heads and is visible from outside as two diamond heads. It has 2 functions: Bending the knee and raising your heel.
Soleus: lies beneath the gastrocs and is not really visible. The soleus raises the heel as in calf raises.
Strengthen your calve muscles…
Progression can be made by starting off using body weight and then adding weight/resistance as strength improves.
1. Seated Calf Raises: Seated calf raises targets the soleus as gastrocs is almost inactive during bent knee exercises.
2. Standing Calf Raises: Standing calf raises emphasizes both calve muscle.
Stretches for tight calve muscles
Stretches should be held for 30 seconds and repeated 6 times
Straight Knee: Straight knee primarily stretches the gastrocs.
Bent Knee: Bent Knee stretches target more of the soleus since the gastroc muscle is contracted.
There could be various causes of calf pain for e.g. muscle stiffness and/or weakness, a muscle strain (tear), lower back injury with nerve involvement, poor posture, blood circulation problems and even serious causes such as cancer. Therefore, it is essential that you be assessed by a physiotherapist or other medical professional if the problem persists and/or gets progressively worse.
BY: Mitesh Anop
Lower Limb injuries