From a beauty standpoint, well-developed calf muscles give you shapely lower legs, while a healthy-living view focuses on ankle and knee stability and reduced chance of injury during exercise. You can also improve your blood circulation by strengthening your soleus muscle, often called "the second heart" due to its aid in pumping blood from the feet and legs. Strengthening your inner calf muscles requires attention to singling out these muscles through different foot positions during specific exercises.
The main inner calf muscle, the soleus, is located underneath the gastrocnemius muscles, the prominent muscles located mainly on the back of the lower legs, but wrapping around the inside and outside regions of the lower legs as well. Reach the soleus muscle when you exercise by using slightly bent knees to relax the gastrocnemius muscles. To stretch your soleus muscles, stand facing a wall. Place one leg behind you. Point your toes forward and keep your heels on the floor. Bend both knees and place your hands on the wall in front of you. Lean into the wall, keeping your elbows bent. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. Switch legs and repeat.
Stand in front of an aerobic step with your feet hip-width apart. Turn your toes slightly inward. Place the balls of your feet, keeping your toes turned inward, on the step. Keep your legs straight with soft knees. Tighten your glues and abdominal muscles as you raise up onto the balls of your feet. Pause at the up position. Return to the starting position. Move only your ankles throughout this exercise. Repeat 12 to 15 times. Do calf raises with your toes pointed 30-degrees outward to exercise the muscles at the inner head, which give the diamond shape to muscled calves.
Resistance-Band Foot Flexion
Work out the gastrocnemius-soleus complex with foot flexion exercises using a resistance band. Anchor a resistance band around a sturdy structure, such as a table leg. Sit on the floor and place one foot inside the resistance band. Back up until there is slight tension on the band. Pull your toes toward you as far as possible for dorsiflexion. Release. Pull and release 10 times. Turn your toes toward the inside while pulling backward to target the soleus muscle specifically. Perform plantar flexion exercises to work the inner calf muscles by holding the resistance band in your hands. Loop the band over your foot and push your toes downward as far as possible. Repeat the exercise 10 times. Repeat both dorsifexion and plantar flexion exercises with the other foot.
To keep muscle fibers long and strong, it's important to stretch after performing exercises. Sit on the floor. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Bend forward from the waist. Reach for your toes. If you can, grasp your feet and hold for 30 seconds before returning to the start position.
- ShareCare: What Exercise Will Strengthen My Inner Calves?
- BodyBuilding.com: Anatomy of the Calves
- RunAddicts.net: How to Strengthen Your Calf Muscles
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Foot and Ankle Conditioning Program
- Sports Injury Clinic: Shin Splints Exercises
- BodyBuilding.com: Develop Head-Turning Calves
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images