Calf Stretches


Chapter 5

The Anatomy Of The Calf

Before reveiwing the calf stretches lets get a better understanding of the superficial group of calf muscles that includes:

Gastrocnemius

  • Most superficial and forms the most prominent part of the calf
  • Is a fusiform, two-headed, two-joint muscle
  • Primarily fast twitch (type 2) muscles — produces rapid movements that are involved in running and jumping
  • Plantarflexes ankle (point your toes)
    • Functions when the knee is extended (straight)
    Calf | Calf Stretches

Soleus

  • Located under the gastrocnemius
  • Large, flat muscle
  • Primarily composed of fatigue resistant, slow twitch (type 1) muscles
  • Plantarflexes the ankle regardless of knee position

Plantaris

  • Small muscle with a small muscle belly and long tendon
    Vestigial muscle
  • Is absent in 5-10% of people (Moore & Dalley, 2006)
  • Insignificant in assisting the gastrocnemius in plantarflexing the ankle

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Benefits Of Calf Stretches

The calf muscles can become tight with all of the work that they have to do, especially when running and/or playing sports.

Stretching these muscles helps increase/maintain flexibility which then helps maintain the proper range of motion (ROM) of the ankle as well as prevent a variety of injuries that could occur in the lower leg.

If you lose the ROM in the ankle, the body needs to compensate elsewhere.


Calf Stretching Exercises

Standing Calf Stretch (v.1)

    Standing Calf Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
Standing Calf Stretch 2 | Calf Stretches

  • Stand and place both hands on a wall.
  • Place one leg behind the other and lean your body forward without bending the back knee until you feel a stretch in your back calf.
  • Maintain the stretch and relax.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Standing Calf Stretch (v.2)

    Standing Calf Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
    Standing Calf Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches

  • Standing facing a wall or object, place your foot up against the wall.
  • Keeping a straight knee, lean forward until you feel a stretch in the calf and hold the position.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Sitting Calf Stretch

    Sitting Calf Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
    Sitting Calf Stretch 2 | Calf Stretches

  • Sit down with one leg outstretched and the other bent.
  • Place a strap around the ball of your outstretched foot and hold the ends of the strap in your hands.
  • Pull up against the strap until you feel a stretch at the back of your leg.
  • Maintain the position.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat the above with your other leg.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Standing Soleus Stretch (v.1)

    Standing Coleus Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
    Standing Coleus Stretch 2 | Calf Stretches

  • Stand and place both hands on a wall, with your feet about half a meter from the wall.
  • Place one leg behind the other and slowly bend the knees while keeping the heels on the floor until you feel a stretch in the calf of the back leg.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
  • Relax and repeat with your other leg.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Standing Soleus Stretch (v.2)

    Standing Coleus Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
    Standing Soleus Stretch 2 | Calf Stretches

  • Standing facing a wall or object, place your foot up against the wall.
  • With your knee bent, lean forward until you feel a stretch in the calf and hold the position.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


Sitting Soleus Stretch

    Sitting Coleus Stretch 1 | Calf Stretches
    Sitting Coleus Stretch 2 | Calf Stretches

  • Sit with your back straight and one leg flexed.
  • Place a strap around the forefoot and pull the towel with both arms to feel a stretch in the calf.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.

| Rehab & Fitness Equipment


  • Howley, E. T., & Franks, B. D. (2007). Fitness Professional’s Handbook (5th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Moore, K. L., & Dalley, A. F. (2006). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (5th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Nieman, D. C. (2011). Exercise Testing and Prescription: A Health-Related Approach (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Sá, M. A., Neto, G. R., Costa, P. B., Gomes, T. M., Bentes, C. M., Brown, A. F., et al. (2015, Mar 29). Acute Effects of Different Stretching Techniques on the Number of Repetitions in A Single Lower Body Resistance Training Session. Journal of Human Kinetics , 177–185.
  • Sherwood, L., & Kell, R. (2010). Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, First Canadian Edition. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.