The Issue: Shortened Calves
Running, playing tennis, soccer, or any kind of sports during which you spend a lot of time on the balls of your feet could eventually lead to tight, shortened calves. According to biomechanist Katy Bowman, director of the Restorative Exercise Institute, achy shins is one surefire way to tell if your calves are too tight. Another is to lie face-up on the floor with knees pulled in toward chest, shins perpendicular to ceiling. Relax your toes, feet and ankles, and have someone take a photo. The greater the angle (more than 90 degrees) between your foot and your shin, the greater the tension in your calves.
To loosen calves, you need to first release the peroneals muscles on outer side of shin bone by massaging them with a tennis ball. Next, perform these calf stretches using a half-foam roller (don’t have one? Use a water bottle placed on the floor). First, put toes on roller, keeping heel on floor, and hold for 20 seconds with straight knee (this stretches the gastrocnemius, the most superficial calf muscle). Next, bend knee slightly and hold (this targets the soleus, a flat muscle that lies underneath the gastrocnemius, as well as the Achille’s tendon). Switch legs and repeat. Perform daily.
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