6 Best Calf Stretches to Relieve Tight Calves: Everything from inactivity to repetitive strain can cause tight, sore calf muscles. Or perhaps a strenuous leg workout made your calf muscles tense up. Whatever the cause, simple calf stretches can help you release tight muscles and improve function.
6 Best Calf Stretches to Relieve Tight Calves
1. Calf Massage with Lacrosse Ball
- Grab a lacrosse ball or softball and sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Place the ball at the base of your right calf, just above the ankle.
- Move the ball side-to-side with your right leg, then gradually work the ball up toward the top of the calf. On your way there, if you find any tender spots, rest the ball there and rotate your foot clockwise and counterclockwise to massage them out for 10-15 seconds.
- If you’d like to add more pressure, cross your left leg on top of your right shin. Elevating the ball on a yoga block can also help you dig in a bit more, as well as give you more room to move your ankle.
- Once you’ve messaged your right calf, spend the same amount of time exploring the left.
2. Soleus Foam Roller Massage
- Sitting on top of your foam roller with your feet in front of you, start by slowly shifting your butt side-to-side as you begin to feel for tender spots, working your way down to your calves.
- If you find a sore spot in this area, hold the foam roller here and breathe for 10-15 seconds or until you feel the trigger point release.
- Repeat this process until you’ve explored your calves, as well as your hamstrings and glutes.
Best Calf Stretches
3. Downward Facing Dog
- This stretch is not only great for the calves, it’s good for lengthening the hamstrings, opening up the shoulders, and warming up your ankles.
- Start in a quadruped position with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
- Then, as you push your hands into the floor, move your head between your elbows and hike your butt into the air. Drive your heels towards the floor. Hold this anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, peddling the feet occasionally.
4. Heel Drop Stretch
- If you also want to stretch and strengthen your Achilles tendon, try this one: Take your yoga block, find a step or some elevated surface. Step both feet up and position your feet so that your right heel is over the edge.
- Drop most of your weight into that right heel as it drops toward the floor. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to a minute, then switch sides. To stretch other angles of your calf, perform this stretch with the stretching leg slightly bent.
- The heel drop can also be a great dynamic stretch to perform during your warmup and to test your range of motion.
- Start with the same setup but instead have both of your heels over the edge. Drop your heels toward the floor, then press through the balls of your feet as you raise the heels. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
5. Wall Calf Stretch
- Start by standing about one to two feet away from a wall. Step your right foot forward and place the ball of that foot against the wall.
- Keep your right heel rooted in the floor. You can place your hands on the wall in front of your for support.
- To intensify the stretch, press through the left foot as the hips move forward. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to one minute, then switch sides.
6. Banded Calf Stretch
- Grab a resistance band (a strap, towel, or a rope could work well too) and sit with your legs straight in front of you.
- Loop the band around the ball of your right foot then pull the band as the toes flex towards you. Press your right heel away from you to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute, then repeat on your right leg