Most of us know that lower body strength improves balance and stability when walking, standing, running, and performing everyday movements. Yes, we strengthen the calves to some degree when we do these things, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we can leave them out of our lower body workout plan.
Why is it important to strengthen your calf muscles?
When most people think of leg strength, they tend to think of the larger muscles in the thighs – the quads and hamstrings. These muscles are obviously important in both fitness and everyday life, but they can’t do much without the calves.
The calf muscles push you forward when you run or walk, allow you to jump, help you rotate your ankles, keep your knees stable, and flex your feet. So if you skip calf strength training, you’re literally cutting yourself off at the knees.
This leg exercises are great for calves.
1. Sitting calf stretching by touching toes
The seated toe touch calf stretch is a popular exercise for stretching the calf muscles. In this exercise, athletes sit on the floor. The legs are fully extended in front of the body. At the same time, the back is straight at the beginning of the exercise. Now, with the back straight, the athletes bend forward to touch the tips of the toes with the hand. The leg on the floor remains fully extended to stretch the back of the leg. Alternatively, athletes can stretch both sides simultaneously by touching the toes of both feet with their hands.
2. Calf stretching on stairs
If you want to stretch your calves at home, you can use stairs. This will increase your range of motion and stretch.
First, stand on two different steps. Place the balls of your feet on each step. The heels float in the air. The body is completely upright and the gaze is directed forward. The leg is almost fully extended.
To create a stretch in the back leg, move the heel down. You can hold the heel there to stretch the rear calf. Then switch sides.
3. Lung Calf Stretch
To perform the Lunge Calf Stretch, assume a lunge position. The front leg should be slightly bent and the back leg fully extended. Keep the torso upright and arms out to the sides. For a rear calf stretch, shift your weight to the front stance leg, making sure the rear heel stays on the floor.
4. Stretching the calf muscle lying with a band
To stretch the calf muscle lying down with a band, lie on your back. Place your legs about hip width apart. Wrap the exercise band around the foot whose calf you want to stretch. Keep your upper body straight and look up. Your arms are almost fully extended over the ends of the exercise band. First, flex your toes slightly and pull them toward your body. Then bend your leg to the side. Then push the band away with your foot and bring the leg back into an extended position with a stronger stretch in the calf area.
5. Calf muscle stretch sitting with the band
To stretch the calf muscle while sitting with the band, start by sitting upright on the floor. Wrap the band around one foot and hold the ends with both hands. Your upper body is completely upright and your eyes are looking forward. Now pull the toes of the foot slightly towards the body to stretch the calf. Then release the tension and bring the leg into a slightly flexed position, while the unstretched leg lies loosely in a comfortable position.
6. Calf stretching on bench
Calf stretching on a bench can be done in many places. While athletes use a weight bench in the gym, a chair, bench, etc. can be used at home.First, stand facing away from a weight bench. With your back leg fully extended, place your front foot on the bench. Walk with your upper body forward and grasp the foot on the bench with the hand on the same side of your body.
To intensify the stretch in the calf, while stretching the calf on the bench, stretch the respective leg and keep the hand on the foot.
7. Toe press against the wall
The toe press against the wall has the advantage that it can be done anywhere. In the following section, there are two different variations of this stretching exercise.
Stand about one step in front of a wall. The front leg is fully extended and the toes are loosely pressed against the wall. The standing leg is firmly on the ground. The whole body is upright and you push against the wall with both hands. To get a comfortable stretch in the calf muscles, press the heel down against the wall and tense the calf.
In this variation of the toe lift, you stand only a few inches from the wall. Your torso is straight again and your rear foot is firmly planted on the floor. The front foot is also on the floor. However, your toes are pressed against the wall and are slightly raised. To create a stretch in the calf, consciously press the toes against the wall and tense the calf.
8. Calf stretching while leaning against the wall
To best perform the calf stretch while leaning against the wall, stand more than one step away from the wall. Lean forward, keeping your feet off the floor. Place your hands in front of your head so that your arms are pressing against the wall and supporting your entire body. The feet must be completely on the floor and the legs must be fully extended so that the calves are automatically stretched. Consciously press the heels to the floor to create even more stretch.
9. Calf stretching on the calf block
A calf block or aerobic stepper is a great way to work your legs. They can also be used to stretch the calves in a variety of ways.
To stretch your calves on the calf block, stand about one step away from the calf block. Both feet face forward. Plant your rear foot firmly on the floor. The upper body is completely upright and the gaze is forward. Now place the front foot on the calf block with the ball of the foot. To create a comfortable stretch in the back of the lower leg, tend to push the heel down.
In this variation of Calf Raise on Calf Block, you stand with your supporting leg on the calf block. Your entire body is completely upright. The ball of the back foot rests on the calf block. Now push the heel down to increase the stretch. You can then switch sides.
10. Calf stretching in starting position
Calf stretching in the starting position is similar to the beginning of an athletic race. You begin by standing in a lunge position. Now bend your upper body straight forward so that it hovers parallel to the floor and touch the floor with your hands in front of your front foot. The back leg is fully extended and the foot must be fully in contact with the floor, the front leg is bent. For more extension of the back leg, press the heel and/or toes harder on the floor.
11. Reverse toe press
The reverse toe press is a rarely seen lower leg stretching exercise. It focuses on stretching the front or side of the lower leg. Stand up straight with the foot of the front leg firmly on the ground. The back foot touches the floor only with the toes. For a stronger stretch, you can now move the back of your foot even further toward the floor.
12. Stretching the lower legs with the theraband
Lower leg stretching is especially intense when you combine lunge calf stretching with Theraband. Stand in a lunge with the front leg slightly bent to provide support. The rear leg is almost fully extended. While maintaining an upright upper body position, a Theraband is attached to the front ankle behind you. For an intense calf stretch, shift your weight forward without lifting your feet off the floor. To increase the stretch afterwards, you can pull the toes of the front foot upwards.
13. Foot Rotation to the Center
For the mid-foot twist, begin by sitting comfortably on the floor. Support yourself with your hands behind you and make sure your back is straight. Both legs are extended forward. The toes point slightly outwards. To extend the lower legs, rotate the tips of the feet toward the center as far as possible.
14. Sitting toe stretch
For the seated toe stretch, sit on the floor. Your legs are almost fully extended in front of you, with the toes pointing vertically upward. Your upper body is upright and your hands are flat on the floor behind your back to stabilize your posture. To effectively extend the lower legs, slowly move your feet forward. This is done by lowering your toes and trying to touch the floor with them, while keeping your heels in the same place. By moving your feet in the opposite direction, you can create a continuous stretch.
Keep reading: 7 Simple adductor stretches and flexibility exercises