For any athlete, calf muscles play a significant role in developing their pace, staying injury-free during the race, and improving posture.
This often neglected muscle can be a powerhouse of strength. They are essential to an athlete’s performance. Calf muscles consist of two types of muscles gastrocnemius and soleus, which are responsible for pushing forward during a run. The strength of these muscles plays a vital role in the pace you can maintain over long distances.
On the other hand, your calves and the supporting tendons can undergo a lot of pressure due to wrong posture and running styles.
Calf exercises and stretches can help you to strengthen your muscles and prepare them for an injury-free run the right way.
1. High Knees
Begin a skipping movement, raising your left knee to waist height while you push off the ground with your right foot, keeping your right leg straight. As you land, alternate by raising the right knee to waist height. Stay on your toes, flexing your calves during the skip. Concentrate on landing on your forefoot/midfoot. As you do this, make sure that you swing your arms opposite the lifted leg.
2. Jump Rope
Start by keeping both your feet together and stay on your toes. Jump over the rope and repeat. As you get better, try switching feet so you jump over the rope with only one foot at a time, which can imitate running movement. This is a good exercise for your wrists as well.
3. Downward Dog
Downward dog is a yoga posture that gives you maximum stretch for your calf muscle. Begin on all fours with your knees on the ground and your feet about an arms distance apart. Drop your chest down, toward your knees as you raise, letting your hips rise while your spine forms a straight line through the shoulder blades and neck. Don’t let your head drop, stoop your heels into the ground as much as possible, and push your thighs back so your legs are straight.
4. Dumbbell Toe Walk
Hold the dumbbell on either of your hands and walk on your toes. And swing your hands alternately by hold the dumbbells. And remember not to touch your heels in the ground, keep them as high as possible.
It’s always good to check with your trainer to know what suits you best.