Forgot To Stretch out this Muscle?
When we think of our lower body muscles, the first thing that comes to our head is either Hamstrings or Glutes. We often tend to forget our calves. Even though our calves are not the biggest muscle group of our body, they too need to be stretched regularly. They play a major role in leg movement, and tightness can lead to pain, imbalances, and inefficiencies in other parts of your body. Your calves are actually made up of two muscles: The gastrocnemius, which is the large part you probably think of as your calf muscle, and the soleus, which lies underneath it. These muscles connect up at the knee and at the bottom of the heel. All of the muscles and tendons are connected, so when one’s really tight, it affects everything else. So not only are tight calves uncomfortable, but they can impact other parts of your body, too. Tight calves can affect the foot, ankle as well as the knee. It can also affect your squat form. Most people, including athletes, should stretch these calf muscles on a regular basis, but neglect to do so. When your calf- achilles complex is tight, it will pull at its attachment point on the back of your heel. This will pull the heel up and off the ground earlier than normal. Your body weight will shift forwards and you can overload the forefoot, knees, hips and low back. While tight calves are not the root cause of most issues, they can add to the pain due to increased loading. Moreover, when you engage your calves while working out, your feet act like a stabiliser muscle, facilitating the movement of your calves. Thus, while stretching or even warming up, including your feet is extremely important.
Here are three calf stretches that will also stretch out your feet-
1. Seated Calf Stretch With a Resistance Band
If you don't have a resistance band, you can use a yoga strap, a towel, or something similar. Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Loop a resistance band around one foot, holding both sides of it with your hands.Gently pull your toes toward your shin until you feel the stretch in your calf. Repeat on the other side.
2. Heel Drop Stretch
For this stretch, you'll need a step, a box, or the edge of a treadmill. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of your step. Drop one heel toward the floor. Bend your other leg and try not to put much weight into it. Repeat on the other side.To make this a dynamic stretch, you can slowly pedal your heels back and forth, or drop both heels toward the ground and raise them up and down.
3. Downward dog
The staple yoga pose stretches both your calf muscles and your feet. You can do a downward dog or modified downward dog and pedal out your feet and calves. Think about spreading out your toes and bending at the toe a little bit as you stretch the muscles underneath your feet.
Do these stretches regularly to avoid any kind of stiffness or discomfort in your calves and feet. Stay home, Stay safe!