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What are the Best Tips for Calf Stretching?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2017
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Tight calves can affect the rest of the legs, and even the lower back. A lack of proper calf stretching can also lead to injury, so a good calf stretching routine is necessary for athletes and those with back or leg pains. If the stretching routine is new to the exerciser, he or she should be sure to start slowly with easy exercises and stretches, then increase difficulty level after several days or weeks. Most simple calf stretching exercises can be done without special equipment at home, but gyms and fitness centers often offer specific calf stretching machines to make the process easier and more effective.

Start with a simple calf stretching exercise. This exercise will give the exerciser a good gauge of calf tightness. Find a raised platform such as a step on a staircase, and stand on the first step with the heels hanging off the step. Holding onto the handrail, let the heel hang down lower than the level of the step. This will begin to stretch the calf muscles. Hold this position for several seconds, then raise the heels to the level of the step. Repeat this a few times, holding the position several seconds each time. This can be turned into a calf exercise by dropping the heel, then raising it above the level of the step, and back down.

Gyms and fitness centers will have countless calf stretching machines and tools for use, though most people will not need them. Simple stretches are usually plenty for most people, though some exercisers may benefit from a simple strap that loops around the ball of the foot. While lying down on the back, pull on the strap, which in turn pulls the toes of the foot downward, stretching the calf muscles. The intensity of the stretch can be controlled by the exerciser's pull on the strap, making this exercise an easy and progressive stretching experience.

During any stretching exercises, be sure to keep from stretching too far. If pain is felt in the leg, release the stretch and let the muscle recover; if the stretch feels sharp pains rather than a dull, stretching sensation, the stretch should be stopped immediately. Overstretching can lead to muscle strains or tears, counteracting any benefits stretching may create. Exercisers should also remember to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising to promote muscle health and to help prevent cramping during exercise.

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