Tight calves?  Feel like you stretch and stretch but get nowhere?  We live in a world of tight calves.  This stiffness probably comes from wearing high heels or shoes with a heel lift (even men’s shoes tend to have a slight heel lift).  Our choice of footwear can alter the length of the muscles of our lower leg, shortening both the muscles and our Achilles tendon.  Sometimes we just feel tight.  Sometimes this tightness can spread to cause other problems in the body like plantar fasciitis or discomfort elsewhere in the body.

Stretch the calf muscles with a bent and a straight leg to reduce tight calf muscles!

Stretch the calf muscles with a bent and a straight leg.

You are probably familiar with one of your calf muscles—the gastrocnemius.  It’s the muscle you can see when think of a calf muscle.  But underneath the gastroc is another muscle, your soleus.  They both connect to the Achilles tendon so they both affect it.  And they both can shorten and feel tight.  The gastroc gets a good stretch when we flex our foot (toes toward your nose) with the leg straight while the soleus is stretched when you flex the foot (toes toward your nose) with the knee bent.  We need both stretches for healthy, happy calf muscles.

So if you’ve been stretching your calf or trying to work out some plantar fasciitis, but feel like you’re getting nowhere fast, make sure you that sometimes you are stretching with a bent knee.  Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.  Repeat up to three times.   It’s the only way to reach deep…deep into your soul…your soleus, that is.

You can do this stretch in a seated position as pictured above or you can use a wall and do it standing.  Find what feels best in your body and what provides you a deeper stretch.  Have fun experimenting with what works best for you.