20 May We all know how to stretch our calf muscles. Don’t we?
Despite it being one of the stretches sportspeople know about, we still see people complaining of tight Achilles and calf muscles.
Did you know, there are actually 3 calf muscles? Gastrocnemius, Soleus and Plantaris to flex the ankle and stabilise the lower leg. The fibres of these muscles are arranged in a variety of directions and consequently need stretching in more than one way. Soleus is often the tighter muscle and typically the most difficult to target as it sits deep to gastrocnemius.
Take the normal calf stretch below. Now concentrate on pushing the heel firmly into the ground and also gently forcing the knee straight. This alone may help you feel more of a stretch. Now, try and bend the knee of the leg being stretched behind – now you may feel it lower in the Achilles and soleus.
The modification we often then make in Physiotherapy is to ask the patient to take a large step to either side of the leg you are stretching. By transferring your body weight you will feel a stretch in the outside or inside of the calf muscles.
Any combination of these may be suitable but it is best to focus on the stretch you feel the most as that is where you are likely to have the tightest muscle fibres!
Remember to hold static stretches for approximately 30 seconds!
Image of runner courtesy of stockimages at