If you have been dealing with calf pain when running, you might need to strengthen your calf muscles or even look at buying one of the best running shoes for calf pain.
Even if you have not been dealing with pain, you can benefit from improving the flexibility of your calf muscles. Strengthening work can also improve your performance. Your running health can be improved, making it well worth investing.
Building calf strength requires consistency, proper training, and a flexibility plan. This is a very attainable goal for almost every runner out there. It should be part of your training planning, no matter how experienced you are as a runner.
How To Build Your Calf Strength
Common injuries related to weak calves are muscle strains, sore Achilles tendons, and pain in the sole. No runner wants to deal with any of these issues, and you will want to use these four exercises to improve your calf strength and prevent future injuries.
1. Double-Leg Calf Raises
This exercise uses your body weight to strengthen your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. You will stand near a wall and place your feet hip-width apart. You will then press down on the balls of your feet and raise your body upward. You will want to be sure your ab muscles are tight so that you are not shifting forward off the balls of your feet. This exercise will train the upward portion of your stride and help with your balance. This work takes about ten minutes and can be done at home.
2. Double Leg Stair Raise
This is an easy exercise to do in your own home. You will stand on the edge of a step with the balls of your feet on the edge of the step. You will allow your heels to drop below the level of the step, and then you will use your calves to raise your body so that you are standing on your toes on the step. This exercise helps train your balance as well as your calf strength. You will also get a great stretch out of this exercise when done slowly. This exercise takes five minutes, and you can do it at home on your stairs.
3. Jumping Calf Press
This is a bodyweight exercise, and you will do this exercise to build strength through plyometrics. You will stand in a neutral position, and then you will leap off the ground by pushing off the balls of your feet. Aim to land softly on the balls of your feet. This explosive exercise trains core strength and coordination and increases calf muscle strength.
Training the explosive portion of your running stride is hard using any other method. Use this as a great exercise to help your calf muscles be stronger in the upward lift of each stride. Do this for about three to five minutes, and you can do it anywhere.
4. Wall Sits
Wall sits are an excellent strength training exercise that improves the strength in your glutes, hamstrings, as well as your calves. To do this exercise, you will place your back against the wall and slide down until your thighs are at a 90-degree angle with the floor. You should then lift your heels off the floor and push through the balls of your feet. You will hold this position for 20 seconds each time. You can also work the other half of your calf muscles by pressing down on your heels and then quickly pressing up onto your heels.
Ensure that you do not overdo this exercise so that you do not tax the tendons in your feet or harm your hamstrings. This is an exercise that should be done for a few minutes at a time. Use this as a great way to finish up your strength workout. When used too much, it will fatigue many large muscle groups. Make sure that you are careful about adding this exercise to the mix so you do not cause muscle strain.
Now we’ve looked at improving calf strength, the next article will take a deeper look into the best way to stretch your calf muscles ready for running. We cover the most effective stretches that can be done before and after any run.