Calf strain is a common injury from exercise that with 3 simple techniques can be managed should you fall victim to it and with time prevent altogether.
The best way to prevent calf strain is to warm up before exercise (including calf stretches) and to cool a cool down after exercise (including calf stretches).
This simple mantra will reduce your chances of sustaining a strain from exercising because a good warm up will adequately prepare your body for the physical demands you will place upon it during exercise.
A good cool down will bring your heart rate down slowly and decrease muscle soreness in the hours and days after an intense workout.
Any injury is unwelcome when you are on a fitness journey.
But calf strain has to be one of the most annoying.
So looking after your legs’ workhorses (calfs) will improve your running and prevent a common injury from occurring that forces you to stop exercising.
Your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) help you to drive up a steep hill when you’re out running.
They also help you to slow you down during the descent on the other side.
Basically your calf muscle ensures that you don’t face plant on the way down.
Stronger calves will simply give you more power and stabilisation so you should regularly stretch calves, as well as do specific exercises to strengthen them.
3 Exercises For Stronger Calf Muscles
1. Calf Raises
Calf raises are the best of both worlds: they will stretch and strengthen calf muscles.
From a standing position feet shoulder width apart push yourself up onto your toes then drop your heels back to the ground.
Push back up and repeat. Do three sets of 10 daily.
Intensification: stand on a low step/bottom of staircase so that your heels start from below the level of your feet.
Hold onto the banister or wall for support.
2. Straight Leg Calf Stretch
Use this stretch before and after exercise for reducing muscle pain and preventing strains.
Face a wall with your arms straight in front and your hands flat against the wall.
Keep your right leg forward bent at the knee foot flat on the floor.
Extend your left leg straight back without bending the knee and place your heel flat on the floor.
Lean into the wall until you feel the stretch in the calf of the straight leg.
Hold for ten seconds then switch sides.
Perform this stretch three times for each leg daily and up to three times a day if your calves are tight.
3. Ankle Circles
This exercise is the simplest of all three but will nonetheless stretch and strengthen your calves.
Support yourself with your hand against a wall or sturdy object.
Lift one leg in the air roughly a few inches from the floor.
Perform a circular motion with your big toe such that you are drawing a big circle with it.
When you perform ten circles with the one foot, then repeat with the other leg.
Switch between clockwise and anticlockwise motions.
If you have sustained a calf injury seek medical attention and follow the advice from the NHS website about how to treat your injured calf.