Properly stretching your calves is important before and after running. It helps prevent injuries and decrease the amount of shock your feet and ankles experience while running. Sports like basketball, baseball, football, soccer, rugby and many others include running and should include stretching your calves as a part of the warm up. Knowing how to properly stretch out your calves can ensure that your calves are prepared.
Your outer calf, or gastrocnemius, can be stretched by sitting on the ground with both legs straight in front of you. Place a stretch band, towel or similar object around the ball of your left foot while holding both ends of the band. Flex your foot back, hold for two counts, then release. Repeat the movement for 10 repetitions, then switch legs and repeat it.
For an alternative way to stretch the outer calf that can be a little deeper and more intense than the previous stretch, stand on the edge of a step or curb, holding something for balance. Keep your legs straight and allow your heels to lower over the edge as far as they will go. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then release. Repeat the stretch if your calves are still feeling tight. You can do this stretch one leg at a time, wrapping the unused foot around the active ankle for better balance.
To stretch the inner calf, or soleus, sit upright on the ground with your left leg extended in front of you and your right leg bent so that your right heel is even with your left mid-calf. Hold the ball of your right foot with both hands and keep your right heel on the ground while pulling your foot toward your body as far as it will go. Hold this stretch for two seconds, then release and repeat the motion for a total of 10 repetitions. Perform the movement for each leg.
For an alternative way to stretch the inner calf, stand at a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Hold your right leg slightly bent beneath your body and your left foot 1 to 1.5 feet behind your body, keeping the left leg mostly straight and stable, the heel on the ground. Now bend the left leg so that the knee lowers roughly 3-4 inches, while keeping your heel on the ground. Hold for two counts then release and repeat for a total of 10 reps, then switch to stretch the right leg.
A good calf stretch would not be complete without including stretches for your Achilles tendon, which attaches your heel to your calf. For a simple way to stretch this, sit on the floor and bring one of your heels in toward your buttocks, keeping the other leg extended in front of you. Hold the ball of your foot with both hands and pull in up toward your body while keeping your heel planted on the ground. Hold this stretch for two counts then release and repeat it for a total of 10 repetitions. Then switch legs and repeat the movement to stretch the other Achilles tendon.
Article Written By William Jackson
William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.