Tight calves can make an athlete miserable. They also get blamed as a possible cause for foot and leg problems including plantar fasciitis. Today calf muscles are in the Prism Fitness Spotlight.
There are two main muscles in the calf: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. They work together to lift the heel as you walk, run, or rise onto your toes. Tight calves often plague runners. They also affect another population. A 2010 study found that women who wear 2-inch (or more) high heels to work 5 or more days per week experienced 13% shortening of their gastrocnemius as well as increased thickness and stiffness in the Achilles tendon (Csapo, 2010).
What can you do for tight calves? Stretch and massage them.
Downward-Facing Dog is a yoga pose that stretches the calves and hamstrings while strengthening the shoulders and upper back.
- Place hands shoulder-width-distance and feet hip-width-distance apart.
- Spread fingers wide with middle finger pointing directly forward.
- Lift hips upward and lengthen the spine.
- Press heels gently toward the floor.
- Breathe evenly in and out through the nose.
Variation: Walk the Dog – Bend one knee while gently pressing the opposite heel toward the floor. Switch. Work at your own pace.
Warm your muscles prior to stretching. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends holding a stretch for 15-30 seconds, repeating the stretch 3-5 times. A picture of Downward Dog is printed directly on the Smart Mat for easy reference.
Massage and release the calf muscles using a foam roller.
- Place hands behind you.
- Place calves on the roller.
- Relax the calf muscles.
- Lift the hips.
- Gently roll back and forth to massage the calf muscles.
If you forget how to position yourself in this releasing exercise, no worries! It’s printed directly on the Smart Foam Roller.
Stretch and massage your calves to keep them… and you happy!