Knee & Ankle By Sophie Xie / July 15, 2016 7 ways to stretch calf muscles more effectively than the way you are doing it I wish that everyone would know how to stretch their calf muscles properly, even if you don't do it very often. Stretching calf muscles is easy with lots of benefits.Calf flexibility can improve sport and athletic performance. That's why calf stretch has always been an essential part of training warm up.Calf muscle can prevent injuries. Healthy calf muscle length encourages ankle and intrinsic foot muscles to actively stabilize your own ankles while you run and jump. You are less likely to sprain your ankles or strain your Achilles' tendons. Quick Navigation More than one muscle?1. Calf stretches on the stairs - Easy2. Downward dog yoga stretch3. Wall feet stretch - easy4. Foot rocker - easy5. Slant board - easy6. Strap leg stretch - advanced7. Foam roller - intermediate Stretching calf muscles is also the most important step in relieving any feet or heel pain. If you suffer from painful conditions such asplantar fasciitisAchilles tendonitisoverpronated feet reoccurring bunionsShin splintYou should consistently stretch your calf muscles daily to achieve fast recovery and pain relief.For those with stiff and shortened calves, you are less likely to benefit from any shoe supports such as orthotics or inserts. Recommended reading [Heel pain? Do this test before you buy any orthotics or inserts]Most people are taught the standing calf stretch. You are to press against a wall or a tree while putting your stretching feet behind your and lunge forward. Sounds familiar? This standing calf stretch is an excellent and convenient way to stretch the calf muscles at any time. It's just that there are many other ways one can stretch the same muscles with better leverage, force, and ease.More than one muscle?When we talk about calf muscles, you are referring to two distinct and massive and powerful muscles, the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. The difference between these two muscles is this: the gastrocnemius muscle is responsible for lifting your heel while standing (knee straight), while the soleus muscle lifts your heel while your knee is bent. Thus, you need to stretch these two muscles individually. To stretch the gastrocnemius muscles, remember to lock your knees straight. And bent your knees to allow further bending of your ankles in order to target the soleus muscles.1. Calf stretches on the stairs - EasyMy favorite way to stretch my calf muscles is on the stairs. This stretch allows you to maintain upright posture, making the stretch easy to maintain over several minutes. Benefit: This stretch allows you to easily stretch both calf at this same times.You need: a stair or step with close by railing or support to maintain balance Image from hep2go.comStand with both feet on the same stepKeep the front half of your feet on the step and the heels off the stepsDrop your body weight on your heels so that your heels drop down from the stepControl the intensity of the stretch by moving your feet closer or further away from the edge of the stepKeep your knees straight to stretch the gastroc muscles and knees bent to straight the soleus musclesHold the stretch for at least 30 seconds2. Downward dog yoga stretchThis stretch is endorsed by many yoga lovers. Benefit: you will get a good stretch in calves, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. you will also get a workout in all the core muscles during this stretch. Promotes overall body flexibility and relaxation. Image from hep2go.com Get down on all fours with your hands under your shoulders on the floorWalk your hands forward slightly on the floorPush your hips up toward the ceiling. Keep your heels on the ground and gently try and straighten your knees.Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds3. Wall feet stretch - easyThis stretch is excellent for athlets and runners. You get a good stretch in both calf muscles and feet soft tissues.Benefit: easy to stretch and relieve foot and calf soreness. Image from hep2go.comStand about two feet away from a form structure such as a wall, a tree or a rock. Place the ball of your right foot against the wall while your heel remains on the ground. Slowly and gently lean forward Keep your knee straight to stretch the gastroc muscle and knee bent to stretch the soleus muscle.Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds4. Foot rocker - easyHere comes the most powerful way to stretch calf muscles. The feet rocker is a remarkable invention for those people suffering from severe calf muscle stiffness.Benefit: easy and powerful stretch for those active individuals with strong but stiff calf muscles. You need: a foot rockerPlace the foot rock on a non-slip floor surface next to something you can hold on to keep balanceStep into the foot rocker and roll your feet back (you can let the other leg hang or place it onto a higher platformKeep your knee straight to stretch the gastroc muscle and knee bent to stretch the soleus muscleHold the stretch for at least 30 seconds 5. Slant board - easyA slant board is an easy-to-use device to allow maximum stretch to both calf muscles at the same times. Some handy people can make one with simple materials and tools.Benefit: powerful and comfortable stretch for the calf muscles. Allow both feet to stretch at the same time.You need: a slant boardPlace the slant board on a non-slip surface next to something you can hol on to keep balanceStep on to the slant board with both feetKeep your body upright, straighten knees to stretch the gastroc muscles and bent knees to stretch the soleus musclesHold the stretch for at least 30 seconds 6. Strap leg stretch - advancedSome people might have been introduced to stretching with a strap allowing gentle and controlled stretches. However, the strap stretching I am talking about here is highly advanced and performed by serious body builder and athletes.Stretchaflex® Stretching Aid is only one of many brands of straps that offer tutorials on strap stretching.Benefit: Powerful stretching for multiple body parts and promote overall flexibility for those with strong yet stiff muscles. Image from stretchaflex.com 7. Foam roller - intermediateHonestly, this is not a stretch. The foam roller is often used to self-release stiffness in tight and sore muscles. Calf muscles are among the most frequently worked on muscles due to the high volume of usage.Sometimes, when stretching fails to fix severe muscle tightness and soreness, deep tissue massage is needed to facilitate healing and blood flow. Foam roller provides quick and easy self-massage to achieve the same result as a professional healing touch.Benefit: deep tissue pressure to release muscle tension and facilitate flood flow.You need: a dense foam roller Image from hep2go.com Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of youPlace the foam roller under the lower half of your leg and cross the other ankle on topPush up with your arms and roll back and forth on the foam roll working your way up the muscle toward the kneePerform this with your toes pointing inward and outward. Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.Recommended readings: Heel pain? Do this test before you buy any orthotics or insertsWhy heel pain? Do you have overpronated feet?6 worst shoes you can walk in for plantar fasciitisLike what you just read? Share this post via our social media buttons! They are everywhere on this page!Want to know more about treating your own pain with techniques from a physical therapist? Please subscribe to our newsletter!