Easy Calf Stretch Routine for Muscle Tightness

easy calf stretch routine

The calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) are located at the back of the leg just below the knee. When you are walking, your foot flexes and your calf muscles stretch to allow the balls of your feet to plant on the ground. This motion is important for performing dynamic exercises properly like the squat.

Calf muscles shorten when they are tight causing more pressure to be placed on the balls of the feet. This increases the risk of tearing the Achilles tendon (the tissue that connects your calf to your heel) and other injuries. Note that tightness in the calf is different from a strained calf muscle. Muscle strain (1) happens when a muscle is stretched too far causing persistent sharp pain. 

calf anatomy

7 Easy Calf Stretches You Can Do At-Home

Regularly stretching out your calf muscles will noticeably increase your range of motion, decrease injury and improve sports performance. Here are some easy calf stretches to get you started. There’s also download a free printable PDF of this routine at the end!

1) Standing Wall Calf Stretch with a Block

wall stretch
  • Place a yoga block against a wall.
  • Stretch out one calf at a time by leaning one foot against the block and bringing your chest to the wall in front of your using your arms as support.
  • Take deep breaths in and breathe out as you hinge forward.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side.

2) Standing Wall Push Stretch

Standing Wall Push
  • Stand 1-2 feet away from a wall in a high lunge position.
  • Push your back heel down towards the ground as you push the wall with your arms. You should feel a deep stretch in the extended calf.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side.

3) Stair Calf Stretch

Stair stretch
  • Stand at the edge of the stairs and press one heel off the ledge towards the ground.
  • Do a set of three 20 second holds with a quick breath in between and repeat on the other side. 

4) Calf Stretch on Stairmaster

My all-time favourite calf stretch is doing the stair calf stretch on the stairmaster.

  • Set the stairmaster speed to 1-2 (low).
  • Press one heel off the ledge towards the ground and alternate for 5 minutes. Add more pressure by leaning back and driving the heel down.
  • Continue this dynamic stretch for 2-5 minutes as warm up.

5) Standing Calf Stretch with Bent Knee

Bent knee stretch
  • Step one foot forward and flex as you bend the other knee.
  • Hinge forward keeping a flat back and reach for the flexed foot. Go as far as you can while maintaining a flat back (even if you can’t reach your toes).
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

6) Seated Calf Stretch

seated stretch
  • Take a seat on a chair or a mat, use a towel/strap to pull one foot towards your body. The other leg can remain bent.
  • Deepen the stretch by pulling the strap towards your body.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

7) Downward Facing Dog

downward facing dog
  • Start on all fours.
  • Straighten and extend your arms and legs to create an “A” shape. This posture is quite difficult, your primary focus should be to push the ground away and straighten your back.
  • “Walk it out” by pressing down one heel at a time until you feel comfortable enough to touch the ground with your heels.
  • Alternate sides, for 20-30 seconds.

Download a Free Printable PDF: Calf Stretch Routine

Six easy calf stretches, hold on each side for 20-30 seconds. Take deep breaths and sink deeper on each exhale.

Free printable cal stretch routine

Takeaway

Incorporating a five minute dynamic calf stretch on the stairmaster before workouts and doing a quick 10 minute foam rolling routine afterwards has really helped improve my overall mobility. I am now able to touch my heels to the ground in downward facing dog and reach for my toes more easily.

Let me know if you’ve experienced muscle tightness or stretch routines you’d like to see in the future!

PS – Here’s a Pinterest-friendly image if you want to save this routine!

Tight calves prevent you from performing at your best. Regularly stretching out your calf muscles will noticeably increase your range of motion, decrease injury and improve sports performance. Here are some easy calf stretches to get you started. Hold each for 20-30 seconds on each side, 3-6 times a week. Download a FREE Printable routine on my blog!

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