November Muscle of the Month: Calf

Why is the Calf muscle important?

Having strong calf muscles is important as they are responsible for keeping both your knees and ankles strong as the muscles begin around the knee join and end at the ankles. They are a ‘deceleration’ muscle for your body so when you are running or jumping, it is your calves that take most of the weight at the bottom. They can take up to 10-12 times your body weight when you land and they support your knee joint and help keep it strong.

Your calf muscle is the posterior part of your lower leg. It is comprised of 2 muscles. Your Gastrocnemius and Soleous. The Gastronemius is the more bulkier of the 2 muscles as it is the one that shows up the most within the calf. Your Soleous is the longer flatter muscle that lies underneath the Gastrocnemius. Both muscles form connective tissue called the Achilles tendon; this is the ‘sticky out’ part at the back of your ankle and connects into your heel bone.

Activating the muscle

Incline walking on Treadmill
This will start getting the calves working and blood pumping around them. Just put the treadmill incline up to 3+ and start a fast paced walk. Continue this for 8-10 mins.

Training the muscle

Double Leg Calf Raise

  • Standing tall
  • Core drawn in
  • Rise up onto the balls of your feet, hold for 2-3 counts
  • Then lower back down

 

Single Leg Calf Raise

  • Standing tall – maybe place a chair or similar in front of you to stabilise yourself with if needed
  • Core drawn in
  • Lift one leg off the floor and rise onto the ball of your planted floor
  • Hold for 2-3 counts
  • Then lower back down

 

 Skipping

  • Using skipping rope
  • Stay on toes
  • Skip for as long as possible without putting your heels dow

 

Stretching the muscle

Your calf is known as your ‘second heart’ this is as it has a valve that helps push all the blood from the lower body back to the heart. It is important to slowly let the body settle down to stop ‘blood pooling’ this is where the valve will slowly stop the blood pumping back up to the body and it will pool in the lower leg making you feel dizzy.

So always keep the legs moving slightly after a work-out and then stretch.

Hold each stretch for around 30 seconds each.

Calf Stretch 1

  • Standing
  • legs apart with one foot in front of the other
  • using wall support
  • take back heel and push down into ground until you get the stretch down your calf

Calf Stretch 2

  • Standing with a step or wall in front of you
  • Place one ball of the foot on the step/wall ,keeping heel on the floor
  • Lean forwards until you feel the stretch in the calf

 

Take a look at Holly’s latest video below on How to Train and Stretch your Calves.

Holly Walford

Holly Walford

Aztec Gym Instructor at TLH Leisure Resort
Holly Walford

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