After working with the ESC athletes over the summer/fall I have noticed that most of them have very tight calf muscles. This month's tip is about stretching and foam/ball rolling the calves.
There are two muscles that make up the calf area. These are the gastrocnemius muscle, which is closest to the skin, and the deeper soleus muscle.
A diagram illustrating where the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are in the calf.
The easiest way to stretch these two muscles is to put your toes on a step and hang your heels down until you get a stretch.
It is important to do stretch with both straight leg and then with the knee slightly bent. The stretch can be held up to 30 seconds. Then bend your knee slightly until you feel the stretch deeper in the calf and down by the Achilles' tendon. Also hold this for 30 seconds. These stretches can be repeated several times throughout the day.
I also recommend rolling your calves out. This helps release tight fascia that may be impeding the stretching. If you don’t have a foam roller a great option is a lacrosse ball, they are usually under $5 and can easily be kept in the athlete’s soccer bag to use prior to games or training sessions. The idea is to roll the muscles until you feel a tight or sensitive area, when you feel that just gently rock back and forth in that area and see if you can get it to release. Foam rolling may be a little uncomfortable, but not painful.
Here is a video demonstrating how to roll out the calf muscles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xPLnDiGfAY
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me!
Jen White, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Train Elite, Assistant Department Head