Gastrocnemius Stretch (7 Simple Ways)

Do you have tight calf muscles?

This blog post will go through the 7 best ways to perform a Gastrocnemius Stretch.


Gastrocnemius Release

To get the most out of the following exercises, perform this release technique before you start any of the Gastrocnemius stretches.


a) How to Release the Gastrocnemius

gastrocnemius release

Instructions:

  • Firstly: Go for a 5-10 minute walk to warm up the muscle.
  • Sit on the floor.
  • Place the back of your calf on top of a foam roller.
  • Place the other leg on top.
  • Keep the leg at the bottom completely relaxed.
  • Apply pressure to the foam roller by pressing the top leg downwards.
  • Rotate your leg left/right to search for tight areas.
  • Make sure to cover the entire calf muscle.
  • Continue for 1-2 minutes.

How to stretch the Gastrocnemius

It is vital that you specifically position your leg so that you can FEEL the stretch in the calf muscle!


You can target different parts of the Gastrocnemius:

  • Lateral (Outer) head: Point feet inwards.
  • Medial (Inner) head: Point feet outwards.

1. Seated Towel Stretch

seated gastrocnemius stretch

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the floor or chair.
  • Loop a towel around the forefoot.
  • Keep your knee completely straight by pushing the knee down.
  • Pull the towel with your hands.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the back of the calf.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

2. Standing Lunge

standing gastrocnemius stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume a deep lunge position with your hands on the wall.
  • (The leg at the back will be the side that will be stretched.)
  • Keep the back leg completely straight.
  • Lunge forwards.
  • Do not allow the heel on the back leg to lift off the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Gastrocnemius Stretch Against Wall

calf stretch against wall

Instructions:

  • Stand in front of a wall.
  • Place your forefoot onto the wall.
  • Aim to get your heel as close to the base of the wall as possible.
  • Keep your knee completely straight.
  • Lean your hips towards the wall.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Alternative: Use a wedge underneath the foot instead of the wall.

4. Assisted Calf Stretch in Supine

assisted calf stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Instruct a helper to:
    • Push your knee down to lock it in a straightened position.
    • Push your ankle backwards.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Gastrocnemius Stretch on step

stretch to gastrocnemius on step

Instructions:

  • Stand on a flight of stairs. (Facing up stairs)
  • Place the leg that you are going to stretch on a lower step.
  • Make sure that the balls of your foot on the back leg is on the edge of a step.
  • (You can use your hands for balance.)
  • Keep the knee of the back leg completely straight throughout this stretch.
  • Slowly lower your heel down.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the back of the calf.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

6. Downward Dog

downward dog calf stretch

Instructions:

  • Place your hands and feet onto the ground.
  • Keep one leg straight and other slightly bent.
  • (The leg that is straight is the side that will be stretched.)
  • Drive the heel of the straightened leg into the ground.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Dynamic Stretch (Eccentric)

dynamic stretch to gastrocnemius

Instructions:

  • Hold onto an appropriate amount of weight in one hand.
  • Stand on the edge of a step.
  • (You can use your other hand for balance.)
  • Keep your knees completely straight throughout this exercise.
  • Slowly lower your heel as low as possible.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the back of the calf.
  • Perform 10 repetitions.

Common Questions:

a) What causes Gastrocnemius tightness?

  • Using high heels
  • Duck Foot Posture
  • Achilles tendon issues
  • Toe walking
  • Overuse of calf muscles

b) How do you know if the Gastrocnemius is tight?

How do you know if the Gastrocnemius is tight

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Loop a towel around your forefoot.
  • Keep your leg completely straight.
  • Pull your foot backwards. (Ankle Dorsiflexion)

Results: If your ankle does not have at least ~10 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion, then it is likely that you have a tight Gastrocnemius muscle.

(Note: There are other reasons why you might have limited mobility: Check out this post to increase your Ankle Dorsiflexion. )


Conclusions:

  • A tight Gastrocnemius muscle can result in limited mobility in the ankle which can lead to multiple issues in the body.
  • Try out all of the Gastrocnemius stretches as recommended on this blog post.
  • Choose and persist with the one where you can feel the most effective stretch.

What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me:

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3. Start doing the exercises!


Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more informationMedical disclaimer.

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