Your calf muscles rarely get a break. After all, they move your feet and play a major role in allowing you to stand upright without falling over. All this work causes the muscles to become tense; the slight rest they receive when you are sleeping or sitting at your desk is not enough to keep them flexible. Keep your calf muscles healthy by stretching them regularly. A seated stretch, even at your desk, will keep your calves loose and limber.
Protect your tailbone by placing a floor mat on the ground. Sit on the mat or in a soft, comfortable chair.
Hold the ends of a resistance band with both hands. Loop the band on the underside of your right foot, just below your toes. Sit up straight and extend your leg. If sitting in a chair, sit near the edge so you can straighten your leg completely.
Flex your toes toward your head and pull the resistance band toward you to increase the stretch on your calf muscles. You will feel tension on your gastrocnemius muscle in the back of your calf. Hold your position for 15 to 20 seconds. Slowly release the resistance band, and relax your toes. Repeat the stretch two or three more times. Set the resistance band aside.
Bend your right knee until your heel sits near your butt. Grab your toes with your hands and pull your toes toward you. Hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and feel the tension in your soleus muscle. Repeat this stretch two or three times.
Switch legs and repeat both the straight-leg and bent-knee calf stretches.
- You can perform the first stretch without a resistance band if you have the flexibility to reach your toes while keeping your leg straight.
- Both stretches are essential after your warm-up and before running or exercising.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.