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How to Do a Standing Calf Stretch Exercise

Learn how to do a standing calf stretch 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 stretch out your calf muscle. The calf muscle is really a generic term for two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. They're very similar in that they attach to your Achilles tendon at the ankle, but as they run up the back of your leg the gastroc is the one that attaches above your knee, whereas the soleus does not.

But they do do the same thing and that is plantar flex or push off when we're running or when we're jumping. The stronger the complex is, the stronger the area is the better for your knee function, because the knee is going to withstand a little bit less stress, as we're running and jumping. The calf can absorb that force as your foot hits the ground and the knee can stay a little bit healthier when you're continuing your training.

The stretching techniques are very similar and I want to go over them now. All right, so to split up the two muscles, and to do them separately the first one is the gastroc, the heel is going to be on the ground. But in this case, you're going to worry about where your knee is and trying to keep your knee in full extension. This will allow the best line of pull for the tendons versus the soleus muscle.

The soleus is going to be where you're going to bend your knee a little bit to get a different line of pull on those tendons. They both need to be stretched after running or after exercise and the goal is to maybe hold it for about 15 to 20 seconds, one to two reps daily. If you want to do it twice a day, it might not be a bad idea if you're recovering from an injury. But this is your calf complex, called your gastrocnemius and your soleus. An important knee muscle for training and for stretching, for the running population, as well as for the exercise population.

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