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Calf Stretches

Exercises > Flexibility (Muscles) > Calf Stretches

 

(Main muscles involved: Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Tibialis Posterior)

 

The following calf stretches are designed to improve the flexibility of the calf muscles (Figure 1).  You should discuss the suitability of these stretches with your physiotherapist prior to commencing them.

To begin with, the calf stretches should be held for 15 seconds and repeated 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain free. Generally you should choose one or two stretches that feel comfortable for you and performed them 3 times daily. As your flexibility improves, the exercises can be progressed by increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of the stretches provided they are pain free.

Calf Anatomy

Figure 1 The Calf Muscles


Basic Calf Stretches

Calf Stretch with Towel 

Begin this calf stretch in long sitting with your leg to be stretched in front of you. Your knee and back should be straight and a towel or rigid band placed around your foot as demonstrated (figure 2). Using your foot, ankle and the towel, bring your toes towards your head until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf, Achilles tendon or leg. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch provided the exercise is pain free. 

Calf Stretch with Towel

Figure 2 - Calf Stretch with Towel

Calf Stretch (Soleus)

Begin this calf stretch with your hands against the wall and your leg to be stretched in front of you as demonstrated (figure 3). Keep your heel down. Gently move your knee forward over your toes until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf or Achilles tendon (figure 3). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain free.

Calf Stretch (Soleus)

Figure 3 Calf Stretch (Soleus) (right leg)

Calf Stretch (Gastrocnemius)

Begin this calf stretch with your hands against the wall and your leg to be stretched behind you as demonstrated (figure 4). Keep your heel down, knee straight and feet pointing forwards. Gently lunge forwards until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf or knee (figure 4). Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4 times at a mild to moderate stretch pain free.

Calf Stretch (Gastrocnemius)

Figure 4 Calf Stretch (Gastrocnemius) (left leg)


More Basic Stretches

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Advanced Calf Stretches

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Calf Self Massage Exercises

The following calf self massage exercises are designed to improve the flexibility of the calf muscles and are an excellent addition to the above stretches. You should discuss the suitability of these exercises with your physiotherapist prior to commencing them.

Foam Roller Calf Releases

Place the foam roller under your calves as demonstrated (figure 5). Using your arms, slowly move your body forward and backwards allowing the foam roller to massage the back of your lower legs. Breathe normally keeping your legs relaxed. Repeat this process for 15 90 seconds provided it is comfortable and does not cause pain. This exercise can be progressed by crossing your legs and massaging one calf at a time (figure 6).

Foam Roller Calf Release

Figure 5 Foam Roller Calf Release

 

Foam Roller Calf Release (Legs Crossed)

Figure 6 Foam Roller Calf Release (Legs Crossed)


More Self Massage Exercises

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Other Calf Exercises

 

  Other Exercises

 


Physiotherapy Products for Calf Exercises

 

Physiotherapy Products to Assist with Calf Stretches

 

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