Skip to main content

How to Do a Heel Raise on Step Exercise

Learn how to do heel raises on step in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.


Hi. My name is Eric Sampson, and I want to talk a little bit about how to do a heel raise on a step. Doing it on a step is basically a progression from doing it from the floor, and the reason why it is a progression is that when you're on the step, you can actually go past the neutral, it's called, of the ankle and go into a little bit of dorsiflexion or flexion of the ankle, which gives the calf muscle a bigger line of pull, and it's much more difficult to come back up and push off from going past neutral into dorsiflexion.

It's a progressive exercise, and the calf muscle is very important to strengthen even for knee patients because the calf is a very large muscle group and can help with absorption of the force for the runners and the walkers out there that are maybe exercising a lot and they're getting a lot of maybe tension in their knees. The stronger your calf muscles are, they can absorb some of that contact, and it's just less stress on the knees.

The other reason why you're doing your calf exercises is because the actual tendons of the calf do come up past your knee. So they're going to come above your knee, and therefore they do have a major function on your knee.

So if you come up on the step, and again if you have your heels hanging off the edge, and then do a traditional calf raise, come on up. All right. That's the same whether you're on the floor or not. But when you come down, you can actually go past neutral, and then you come back up again. Good. So this is a little more challenging than doing it from the floor.

So the key part of the exercise is going to be the lowering down past neutral. So if you come up first, that's going to be the same whether you're on the floor or on a step. But when you come down, you can actually go past neutral into what's called dorsiflexion or ankle flexion. That provides a little bit more of a stretch for the calf muscle, and it also makes the calf muscle have to work a little harder because you're going past neutral into a flexed position.

Come all the way up again and then back down. Good. So about 2 to 3 sets of 10 is a great way to start, maybe on alternating days, and then once you've progressed and have gotten on with it, you might want to add some hand weights to make it a little bit harder, maybe hold yourself up a little bit longer, or do more repetitions for progression.

This is a great exercise for both your ankle patients, but really for your knee patients as well, and it often gets overlooked in the rehab setting.

Popular Categories