You work your calves with every step you take — walking and running. These muscles are the unsung heroes that work in almost every standing leg exercise you do, from squats to lunges to side skaters. When they are tight, you feel it! If you wear heels regularly, the tightness can be even worse. If your calves become chronically tight, it can mess with your gait, and that can lead to overuse injuries in your feet, ankles, and knees. So do yourself a favor: start stretching your calves. Here are eight ways to lengthen and loosen your calves.
This is a classic calf stretch that you can do just about anywhere.
- Stand a little less than arm’s distance from the wall.
- Step your left leg forward and your right leg back, keeping your feet parallel.
- Bend your left knee and press through your right heel.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch legs.
This essential yoga pose lengthens the back of the legs, with special focus on the calves.
- Begin in a plank pose with your hands under your shoulders, then lift your pelvis up, making a “V” with your body. Walk your feet toward your hands if you need to.
- Work on bringing your heels toward the ground to stretch your calves.
- To deepen the stretch, try pedaling lightly by pressing down on one heel while bending the other leg (as shown). Hold a few seconds per leg and then switch.
- Hold or pedal your feet for 30 seconds.