The area below your calf -- the Achilles tendon -- is involved in many of your physical activities, such as walking, stair climbing, running and biking. Keeping that area loose and limber can help you enjoy a full range of motion while avoiding injury due to tightness in the tendon and surrounding muscles. Performing stretching exercises regularly can help you keep the area below your calves lengthened and flexible.
Warm up your calf muscles as well as the rest of your body before you perform stretches targeting the area below your calves. Walk at a relaxed pace for five to 10 minutes, or march in place.
Stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscles with a seated calf stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Wrap a large towel or resistance band around the bottom of one foot. Pull the towel or band toward you slowly to flex your toes while simultaneously pushing your heel away from you. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds, and then release. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with your left foot about 2 feet out in front of the other foot to perform standing Achilles tendon and calf stretches. Bend your left knee, and shift your body weight over your bent knee. Keep both heels on the floor as you hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Shift your body weight back as you bend your right knee and straighten the left one. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds. Return to the starting position, and perform the stretches starting with the right foot forward.
Do standing calf stretches by standing about 2 feet away from a wall. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height with your arms fully extended. Position one foot about 12 inches in front of the other and bend the knee. Lean your entire body toward the wall, bending your elbows to come closer to it. Do not hinge at the hips. Hold the stretch for 20 counts, and then switch to the other side and repeat the exercise.
- Check with your doctor before you incorporate any new exercises into your fitness routine.
- Always take time to stretch both legs so both tendons and the surrounding muscles are equally limber.
- Increase your intensity and duration slowly as you build physical fitness to avoid muscle or tendon injuries due to overexertion.
- Acute pain in the area below your calves can indicate a muscle or tendon problem. See your doctor before you engage in any further exercises.
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.