Your calves are a muscle group that is often overlooked and can often be a point of pain and discomfort if not regularly utilized. This can happen to many people due to sitting for long periods of time or wearing shoes with high arches, such as high heels, that restrict the range of motion of your calf muscles.
There are two main muscles that work together in your calves: your soleus and gastrocnemius. These muscles are involved in what is called “plantar flexion” or the action of standing on your tip-toes. If this movement, especially when done suddenly, is causing you pain and discomfort it might be a good idea to do some stretching exercises. One exercise to utilize is standing near a wall and lifting your toes up (as seen in the bottom left).
The closer you move your torso toward the wall, the more stretch you should feel. Another great option is to stand behind a chair in a lunge position and slowly lean forward.
To make further progress and help your calves receive that good range of motion and some resistance, try doing a calf raise exercises on your stairs!
This is a great way to strengthen these muscles and something you can do every day. Find a staircase in your house and place half of your foot on a stair and have your heel hanging off. Push with your toes like you are lifting your head to the ceiling. (Follow the picture on the bottom right for reference). Do this 3-5 times per step and you will feel a great burn, and get those calves “moooving”!
Your ankles are a pivotal joint that works in conjunction with your calves and can be very prone to injury. It is important to do regular exercises especially if you are recovering from a past ankle injury.
While the above calf exercises will also help your ankles receive greater range of motion, here are some other exercises you can try. Grab a towel from your bathroom and wrap it around the sole of your foot. While holding on to the other end, use the towel as resistance as you move your foot forward.
Two other great exercises you can do at any point in your day, involve putting your ankle through eversion and inversion. These are the movements your ankle performs when you move your ankle inward and outward. Simply move your ankle in a large circular motion for 3×20 seconds! Another great option is to go through trying to spell each letter of the alphabet by drawing them out with your toes!
This will put your ankle through several different movements and plenty of inversion and eversion!
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