Tight calves can completely ruin your run. Calf stretches can help ensure that your muscles are activated to avoid tightness. But how do you stretch your calves before running?
To stretch your calves before running, start with some static calf stretches to loosen up the calf muscles and provide the required mobility for running. Then, move to dynamic stretching to increase the blood flow in the calves and activate these muscles for running.
Read on as we go over the benefits of calf stretching for runners and how often they should do these stretches.
We’ll also outline 11 static and dynamic stretches to prepare your calves for the upcoming run.
If you are in a hurry to see the best products to help you stretch your calves before running, check out the products below.
- 1 Importance of Calf Stretching for Runners 🦿
- 2 How Often Should Runners Stretch Their Calves? 🤔
- 3 Stretches for Calves 😍
- 3.1 Stretching
- 3.2 Activation
- 4 Bottom Line 🤗
Importance of Calf Stretching for Runners 🦿
Calf muscles determine the quality and length of your running sessions. They help you raise your pace, slow it down, and stop.
When doing energetic exercises like running, the pressure on these muscles makes them shorter and less flexible, affecting your weight distribution and causing tightness and pain.
Calf stretching also increases blood flow to these muscles, makes them warm, fills them with oxygen, and improves your flexibility in these areas. See our post on stretching calves every day with tips on daily calf stretching.
Leg stretching is also useful. See our post on how often should you use leg stretchers if you are interested in that.
The other benefit of calf stretching is preventing running-related Injuries.
Running tightens muscles, which means a lower range of motion and muscle imbalance.
As a result, working out won’t properly activate the muscles you’re trying to target, which may lead to injuries.
Two common calf-related injuries are:
The Achilles tendon is located in your calves and connects your calf muscles to your heels.
Achilles tendonitis happens when you overwork this tendon.
The faster you run, the more pressure you put on the Achilles tendon.
Runners, especially speed trainers and uphill runners, commonly experience Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles Tendonitis can cause several symptoms, including pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the back of your leg and significantly above your heel.
It also can reduce your leg mobility and range of motion.
The muscle cramp happens when you feel a sudden contraction in your calves and lead to painful muscles.
Dehydration and mineral deficit also can lead to muscle cramps.
Stretching calves properly before running prevents such injuries.
How Often Should Runners Stretch Their Calves? 🤔
Since we use our calves daily during activities such as walking and standing, the recovery time may take longer than other muscles. So it’s also crucial to stretch before and after every run to avoid muscle injury.
Your body reacts to these tears by inflammation and soreness.
Stretching and recovery exercises like yoga can be great options for relaxing muscles after running.
Stretches for Calves 😍
The stretching routine for running has two parts: stretching and activation.
The first part includes some static stretches to release the tension in the calves and increase the calf’s mobility for running.
The second phase involves dynamic stretches to increase the blood circulation in the calves and warm up these muscles.
Try to perform the static stretches first, then proceed to the activation part.
Here are five static exercises to prepare your calves for running. Try to perform each gently.
1. Wall Stretch
This motion targets the back of your feet and your calf muscles.
Here’s how to do it:
- Stand facing a wall with your back straight and your hands on the wall.
- Bring one leg forward and flex it against the wall.
- Feel the stretch, hold it for 10 to 15 seconds, and switch legs.
2. Standing Bent-Over Calf Stretch
This stretch has two benefits. First, it works the muscles that help your ankle flexion and extension.
Second, it enhances your posterior chain as the muscles in that area influence each other.
Follow the steps below to try it out:
- With your back straight, keep your feet apart to the width of your hips.
- Keep a neutral spine and bend at your hips to reach your right toe.
- Stretch your right foot and bend the other knee to feel a deeper stretch in your right calves.
- Hold there for 10 to 15 seconds, then switch legs.
3. Lunging Calf Stretch
This lunge variation works your gastrocnemius—the large muscles in your calf.
To do it:
- Stand in a firm position. Put your hands on the hips and keep your back straight.
- Stretch one foot to the back and bend your front knee like you perform a mini lunge. If you don’t feel the stretch, go a bit further back.
- Stay in this position for 15 seconds and then switch legs.
You could use dumbbells to make the stretch more challenging.
I recommend these adjustable dumbbell sets, available on Amazon.
You can adjust the weight from 5 to 50 pounds. So you’ll have no trouble leveling up your game for a long time.
4. Seated Calf Stretch
This move stretches the gastrocnemius and the Achilles tendon, preventing common running-related injuries.
To do it:
- Sit on the ground and keep your feet extended.
- Bend your right knee so that the foot palm faces your left thigh.
- Hinge forward to grab your left foot with one hand.
- Slightly pull with your hand to bring your toes toward yourself.
- Give your calf a good stretch. Hold it for 10 to 15 seconds, and do the same for your next leg.
5. Foam Roller Stretch
You can relax your calves by doing a few foam rolling stretches. Doing so will also enhance your ankle mobility.
You can use a water bottle or an object of similar shape and size instead of a foam roller.
To do it:
- Sit on the ground and extend your legs.
- Put the foam roller under your ankle and gently increase the pressure.
- If you want to increase the stretch, put your ankles on top of each other.
- Do each leg ten times.
These foam rollers are high-density and can help ease muscle tightness and help you massage the deepest parts of your muscles.
Here are some dynamic stretches to warm up your calves.
Repeat each 5 to 10 times to ensure your muscles are getting activated.
This motion targets the calf muscles and stretches the plantar muscles (the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot).
To do it:
- Stand straight and put your hands on your hips.
- Slowly apply pressure on the balls of your feet and bring your heels up.
- Maintain your position for about 15 seconds, and then come back down.
To make it more dynamic, start walking on your toes. This move is excellent for activating the calves.
Calf Stretches with Resistance Bands
You can perform a wide range of banded calf stretches, both dynamic and static, to target different muscles and reach different flexibility goals.
The standing variation involves tying the resistance band around a pole or any sturdy thing like the foot of a treadmill.
- Place your right foot inside the loop you’ve made with the band.
- Go forward with your left foot as far as your right knee remains fully straight, and feel a good stretch in your right calf.
- Hold for 20 seconds, repeat ten times, and switch legs.
See our top three recommended resistance bands below if you don’t own one already.
Standing and Seated Soleus Stretch
Soleus muscles are one of the two muscles that make up your calf, and effectively stretching them can prevent injuries in these deep muscles.
You can perform soleus stretches both standing and sitting.
The standing soleus stretch involves standing with your right foot behind your left foot about 30 cm (12 inches) apart.
Bend both knees while pressing the heel of your right foot and moving your torso and weight forward.
For the seated variation, sit on a chair and cross your left foot on the right, placing the left ankle on the right knee.
Grab your toes with your hand and pull them back slightly. Hold the position for a few seconds, repeat ten times, and switch to the other leg.
A mountain climber is an intense exercise that engages many muscles simultaneously, especially your legs.
To do it:
- Start with a high plank position, forming a straight line with your body and keeping it parallel with the ground and your core engaged.
- Keep your neck relaxed and your back straight.
- Bring up one knee toward your chest and extend it back to the plank position.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
Start with slow moves and then gradually speed up.
Single-leg Downward Dog
This movement is a big bonus for runners as it stretches heels, hips, and glutes.
To do it:
- Go to the high plank and put both hands under your shoulder.
- Press your palms firmly on the ground and hinge your hip backward.
- Lift one leg, making a straight line with your spine. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and switch legs.
Bottom Line 🤗
When you run, the most pressure is on your calves.
The best way to prevent calf injuries is to stretch your calves before running.
How do you stretch your calves before running?
The stretch routine consists of static stretches to release the tension or cramps in the calves and dynamic stretches to activate these muscles and prepare them for running.
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Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API