How to Stretch Your Ankle Plantar Flexors

The gastrocnemius is the largest of the plantarflexors.
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The ankle plantarflexors are a group of nine muscles located mainly at the posterior region of the lower leg. These muscles function as extensors of the ankle. The muscles include the gastrocnemius (medial and lateral heads), soleus, plantaris, tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus, fibularis longus and fibularis brevis. The gastrocnemius is the largest and most evident of the plantarflexors and appears as a diamond-shaped muscle at the back of the lower leg when it is adequately developed. You can stretch all of the plantarflexor muscles by performing dorsiflexion, the movement opposite plantarflexion. Therefore, you need to flex your ankle and hold the position to stretch the plantarflexors.

Seated Calf Towel Stretch

    Hold the ends of a towel with each hand.

    Sit on the floor with your legs extended and with your feet close together.

    Extend your arms and position the middle of the towel up against the soles of your feet or up against the bottom of your toes.

    Pull the towel toward you to flex your ankles until you feel a stretch in your plantarflexors.

    Maintain this stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Standing Calf Wall Stretch

    Stand in front of the wall, facing toward it.

    Flex your right ankle and position the sole of your right foot up against the wall.

    Put your hands on the wall for support.

    Lean your right leg forward and further flex your right ankle until you feel a stretch in your plantarflexors.

    Hold this stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds, and then repeat the stretch with the other side.

    Things You'll Need

    • Towel

    • Wall


    • Complete three sets for each of the stretches during your lower-leg stretching routine. Do the stretches after your lower-leg workouts. Between each stretch, take a one- to two-minute break from the plantarflexor stretches, or do stretches for the dorsiflexor muscles between the sets. To stretch the dorsiflexors, which are the tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, extensor hallucis longus, and fibularis tertius, place your ankle in a flexed position.


    • Consult with a health-care professional before undergoing any resistance, cardiovascular or stretching exercise regimen if you have been away from the gym for a lengthy period of time.

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