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Calf Stretching - How to stretch the Calf Muscle

by Taylor Tollison

The purpose of this article is to cover the basics of the calf muscles and proper flexibility for that muscle group.

What is the Calf Muscle?

The calf muscle consists of the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The gastrocnemius is the big muscle at the back of the leg and the soleus is located at the lower part of the leg.

Gastrocnemiuscalf muscles

The gastrocnemius crosses two joints. It is inserted into the calcaneus and originates from the femur. Because it crosses two joints it is implicated in multiple duties. First and foremost is plantar flexion (Pointing the foot down). Second, it helps with knee flexion.


The soleus muscle only crosses one joint. It inserts into the calcaneus. The soleusí action is ankle plantar flexion.

What common Movements use the Calf Muscles?

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Jumping
  • Biking
  • Sprinting
  • Hopping
  • and more

Common Calf/Gastrocnemeus/Soleus Injuries

  • Calf Strain-When the calf muscles are stretched too far.  Calf Strains happen at varying levels.
  • Achilles Tendon Tear-This can be a very big injury.  Famous sports stars like David Beckham and Memo both tore their achilles.

Static stretches for the Gastrocnemius Calf

2-3 sets per calf muscle hold for 20-30 seconds

Standing Calf Stretch

Exercise Description:
Forward lunge calf stretch
1. Place your hands on a wall or solid object.
2. Lean forward with the heal of the back foot on the ground.  Lean until you feel a stretch in the back calf.
4. Hold for the suggested number of seconds and then repeat with the other foot.

Foam Rolling for Calf Gastrocnemius

10 reps per muscle 1 set.

Foam Roll Calf Stretch

Gastroc Soleus Stretch
Self Myofascial Release
1. Place foam roll under the lower calf muscle.
2. Slowly roll the calf up and down from the lower calf up to the upper calf.  Or you can break this movement up into two by rolling the upper and then the lower calf or vice versa.
4. Repeat on opposite leg.