How to stretch tight calves

Tight calves can be a common problem for many people. This can be due to genetic predisposition, but generally occurs simply as a result of our daily movements, or lack of them! Many of us have static jobs where we sit for hours at a time and due to this our muscles don't get used as much as they should. When we do go to use them we find that they can be stiff and inflexible, sometimes even causing pain and tightness such as in the calves. There are also other factors such as wearing wrong footwear, which can further aggravate this condition.

The fact is that tight calves can be more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience, they can actually lead to various other health conditions. Tight calves are often the cause of tight hamstrings, which in turn can imbalance the pelvic area and cause back and shoulder pain. In addition to this, tight calves can put you at risk of ankle injuries and can make you susceptible to problems with your feet.

All in all tight calves are not a good thing! So what can we do about them?

woman doing toe touch stretchThe good news is that dealing with stiff calf muscles is relatively easy with the use of some proper stretching. The key is to warm up the muscle before you start stretching so that you don't cause any injury. If you already have an exercise regime then you simply have to incorporate some longer stretches for the calves preferably at the end of the workout. Make sure you don't over stretch, just hold it at a comfortable tension, but there shouldn't be any pain.

Some stretches for the calves are:

1. Stand with the ball of your foot on a step or elevated surface, keep your legs straight and let one heel hang off until you feel the stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other foot.

2. Same as stretch one only now bend the knee of the leg your are stretching, this will stretch the bottom of the calf more effectively. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other foot.

3. Sit on the ground with both feet extended in front of you, flex your feet so your toes are pointing up to the ceiling and lean your chest towards your thighs. Hold for 20-30 seconds. You can intensify this stretch by using a towel around the bottom of your feet and pulling your feet back towards you.

4. Stand in front of a step or elevated surface, place on heel on the step flexing your foot upwards. Bend slightly forward towards your extended leg hinging at the hip and keeping your leg straight. You may need to hold on to the wall or a chair to keep your balance. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

5. Lie on your back on the floor, bend one leg and extend the other into the air with your foot flexed, lower the leg as far as you can towards your chest keeping your leg straight. You can hold on to the back of your thigh, knee or calf depending on how flexible you are. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

These are just some stretches that will effectively start loosening your calves if you do them with consistency. 

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