Calf Muscle Series Part 2: Helpful Stretches & Strength Exercises

Calf Muscle Series Part 2: Helpful Stretches & Strength Exercises

In Part 1 of our Calf Muscle Series, we looked at the different calf muscles, what they do and some common injuries.  Today we’re expanding on the topic even further with some useful stretches and strengthening exercises for the calf muscles. These are a great place to start is you want to prevent injury in the first place, or can be used during recovery from an injury as advised by your physio.


Gastrocnemius Stretch

  • Stand with one leg far in front of the other
  • Keep the back heel flat on the floor
  • Bend the front leg and keep the back leg straight
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Soleus Stretch

  • Stand with one leg in front of the other close to a wall
  • Place your hands on the wall and lean forwards
  • Bend both knees, trying to touch the front knee on the wall
  • Keep the heel down
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

Standing Shin Stretch

  • Stand with your toes of the left foot on the floor on the outside of your right foot
  • Bend the right leg to push your ankle towards the ground
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds
  • Swap legs!

Plantar fascia stretch

  • Sit on the floor with the knee bent and the heel on the floor
  • Pull up on your toes to stretch the arch of the foot
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds

(P.S. Keep an eye out for my next series on the plantar fascia)


Double leg heel raise

  • Using your body weight, standing on the floor, lifting your heels of the ground and slowly (3, 2, 1) lowering them back down and repeating.

Single leg heel raise

  • Increasing the intensity of the double leg heel raise, do this on one leg, this also adds additional challenge of balance in single leg stance.

Drop downs from a stair

  • This to me is an advancement as it adds the challenge of full range of motion. Simply stand with your toes on the stairs and drop your heels below the step. Push through the balls of your feet and toes to rise back up.

Bent knee heel raises

  • This isolates the soleus more than the gastrocnemius. My belief is this should be done in standing not sitting. Simply bend your knees and lift your heels of the floor, then lower slowly.

For all calf muscle exercises aim for higher reps of 25-50 as they are stubborn muscles that don’t require high levels of load but rather endurance to encourage an increase in strength. You can also advance your calf muscle work by integrating dynamic movements into your workout routine, such the Push Press, or add in some skipping for a burst of cardio.

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Andrew Ilieff

Andrew Ilieff

Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapy based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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