Lower Leg Calf Stretches (Gastrocnemius & Soleus)


These exercises are both static stretches that we hold for a set time, rather than the dynamic stretches which are active i.e. within a movement.


ANATOMY OF THE TWO MUSCLES

The main difference we need to know when stretching the two muscles is that the gastrocnemius crosses the ankle and the knee joint, so we need to keep a straight knee during this stretch.


However, the soleus only crosses the ankle joint, so by bending the knee during this stretch, we relieve tension off the gastrocnemius, and are able to focus the stretch directly to the soleus.


HOW TO STRETCH

  • Place one foot in front of the other, ensuring both feet are pointing forwards (as in the pictures above). Keep both feet flat on the floor. If you are unable to keep the feet flat then bring the feet closer together

  • Soleus stretch: Bend the back knee towards the floor to feel a stretch at the back of the ankle/lower leg. Maintain the back foot flat against the floor.

  • Gastrocnemius stretch: Gently lean forwards, keeping the back leg straight and foot flat against the floor so that you feel a stretch along the length of the back of the lower leg.

  • Hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds.

  • Repeat 3 times on each side.


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