By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Your calves are made up of two muscles: the upper gastrocnemius muscle and the lower soleus. The Gastrocnemius muscle is a large posterior muscle of the calf of the leg. The gastrocnemius muscle is located near the surface, i.e. you can easily see it and it can be found at the back of your lower leg. The soleus lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle. These muscles of the calf connect at the knee and the Achilles tendon at the heel.
The main function of the gastrocnemius muscle is to allow your foot to move downwards away from the body. It is essential for walking, running, climbing stairs and other dynamic leg movements.
Your calves get tighter over time when you don’t move them through a regular range of motion. For example, if you sit at a desk all day without walking around, your knee and ankle joints pretty much stay in one position (which means your calves aren’t moving either). Wrong shoes can restrict the full range of motion of the muscle group. When it happens, the gastrocnemius muscle and/or the soleus muscles get tighter and tighter. Tightness of your calf muscles can contribute to foot and ankle problems.
Regular stretching exercise can help to reduce tightness of your calf muscles. Strengthening and stretching exercises can maintain or improve flexibility of calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. Stretching muscles can help ensure that your muscles and joints can move freely and function properly, thus preventing injury.
Try going through the following exercise daily in the link below. Please note while stretching, you should feel the stretch, but you should not feel any pain. If you feel pain, stop stretching and consult your physician.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.