Turning your calves into cows

A Soleus - Ottawa massage blogstrong lower leg is a key component in a strong foundation. In fact, if one of your calf muscles – the soleus (pictured at right) – were not in constant contraction, you would fall forward! Not only that, strong calf muscles protect your ankle joint, improve your running and jumping ability, and help blood flow return upward to your heart.

As with most muscles, there are two parts to ensuring strong, healthy calf muscles: strengthening and stretching. This is especially true for the gastrocnemius (the large outer calf muscle – cut away in the diagram at right), which is prone to spasms. Finding the balance between adequate amounts of strengthening and stretching can lower the chance of spasms occurring.

Strengthening: 

Standing calf-raises

Calf stretch- ottawa massage blogStand on the edge of a stair, a large book, or a wood block. Hold onto a wall or banister for stability. Slowly press your weight into the balls of your feet, while lifting your heels away from the ground. Once at maximum height, release and return to start position. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.

Need a little more? Adding weight, like a barbell across your shoulders, will give you more resistance. Doing the exercise one leg at a time is also a more challenging approach.

Need a little less? Do fewer reps and start with one set, working up as you feel comfortable.

Seated calf-raises

Seated calf raise - Ottawa massage blogSit on a chair and place your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Place a few heavy books on your lap. Begin the exercise by applying pressure to the balls of your feet, slowly lifting your heels off the ground. Once at maximal height, release back to the floor. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.

Need a little more? Adding heavier books, or even a heavier object like a sand bag or a small child, can provide a greater resistance for the exercise. Doing the exercise one leg at a time, with all the weight on that side, is also a more challenging approach.

Need a little less? Do fewer reps and start with one set, working up as you feel comfortable.

Stretching:

Gastrocnemius stretch (Runner’s Stretch)

Runner's stretch - Ottawa massage blogStand facing a wall. Place your hands on the wall. To stretch, step one leg back so that you are in a lunge with both feet flat on the ground, your knee straight, and your heels pointing straight back. You should feel it in your calf. To increase the stretch, bring the feet farther apart.

Soleus stretch (Modified Runner’s Stretch)

Modified Runner's stretch -Ottawa massage blogPosition yourself in the runner’s stretch. Bend your knees and hips as if you were sitting in a chair. You will feel the stretch in the lower part of your calf. This is a deep stretch, so your feet may need to be closer together than they were in the runner’s stretch.

Talk with your RMT to make sure you are performing these exercises correctly. Your RMT can assess your calves to see which muscle you should be targeting. If there are any trigger points or abnormal tautness, a massage will help alleviate these and allow the muscle to perform the exercises better.

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About Body Poets Massage Therapy

Three-time nominee and 2016 winner of Top Massage Clinic in Ottawa! At Body Poets Massage Therapy, we are committed to excellence in client care. We provide therapeutic, sports, pre- and post-natal, wellness, cupping, hot stone, ART, Thai massage, and more in a convenient, peaceful, downtown Ottawa location with free client parking. We are FSCO-registered and can bill your auto insurance company directly for treatment after a motor vehicle accident. We also bill directly to Great West Life and Green Shield. Our flagship office at 504 Kent Street in Ottawa is close to the Queensway and easy to reach by car, foot, bike or bus. Our satellite clinic in Almonte, Ontario is cozy and charming. Our online booking system makes it simple for you to reserve your appointment at any time. And our network of like-minded health professionals means we can refer you to practitioners in other fields who meet your needs for quality care. Step into the circle of care, at Body Poets. http://bodypoets.com, http://almontemassage.com, http://ottawamassageblog.com

One thought on “Turning your calves into cows

  1. Pingback: Running Pains: Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome | Body Poets Massage Therapy

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