Stretching before running is crucial to preventing injury and should never be missed. When you take the time to warm up, even if you have one of the best running shoes for calf pain, you will be preparing your body for its workout and helping to stave off injury and other problems.
If you hate having to stop and stretch in the middle of a run because you’ve got cramps, then these exercises are mandatory for your warm-up plan. It only adds a few minutes to your workout to prepare your calf muscles for the tasks ahead of them, and you will be glad that you took this tiny bit of extra time when you see your performance improve.
How to Stretch Your Calf Muscles Ready for Running.
1. Farmer’s Walk
This is a simple exercise, and it is a great place to start your stretching work. Simply raise onto your toes and walk back and forth across the floor, or up and down the sidewalk, for a couple of minutes. You should feel the stretch in the back of your legs, and you might notice that the soles of your feet are releasing as well.
This is an excellent choice for your post-run stretches since it will elongate tired muscles and help prevent cramping in your legs and feet when you are done with your workout. You should do three sets of this exercise with about a 20-minute break in between. Think about walking for 30 seconds and resting for 20 for each set.
2. Calf Raises
This stretch is easy to do inside your home if you have stairs inside, or you can use the front step outside your door for this exercise. Even a parking curb will work perfectly for this need or the edge of the sidewalk. To do this exercise, stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of the step and lift your body by pressing up onto the balls of your feet. You will then lower yourself down to drop your heels a bit below the level of the step.
Do this exercise for about 15 reps, and you should aim for three sets for your warm-up. This stretch should feel like it is working the backs of your calves, and you might notice some release of tension in the front of your legs near your shins on the downward part of the stretch. This is an effective stretch that is easy to access no matter where you have decided to start your run. Use calf stretching exercises in sets of 3 to 5 with breaks in between for the best results.
3. Jump Squats
This is a great warm-up exercise and a stretch all in one. You can do this stretch anywhere with enough space for you to jump up and down without running into anything. To do this exercise, you will press your body down into a squatting position and then jump up with power. Land in a squat and repeat about 10-15 times. You should only need to do one set of these before your workout.
This stretch is doing the most work for your calves in the upward part of the move when you jump. Your calves will be better prepared to handle the strain of the upward portion of your stride when you have woken them up with this stretch. You will also benefit from getting your heart rate up when you use this stretch, which can significantly help jumping right into an effective workout.
4. Downward Dog
This classic yoga pose is excellent for stretching out the calves and the Achilles tendons. You will simply start in a plank and then pull your body upward so that your hips are in the air and your legs are straight. You can pedal your feet out left and right to ease deeper into the stretch. Think about getting your heels down to the floor but do not force the stretch.
Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds at a time and allow your body to relax back to plank for about 10 seconds. You can repeat this stretch as often as you want until your calves don’t feel like they are fighting with the stretch. A good indicator that you have gotten the most out of this stretch is that you will be able to get your heels closer to the floor, and your calves will not protest the stretch as you deepen it. After your workout, you can use this stretch to help stave off stiffness and post-run cramps.
Now you’ve learned some of of the best ways to stretch your calf muscle, the next article will look at ways to get rid of calf cramps after running. In most cases, we need to look at our diets because it could be a sign we don’t have the right nutrients – which you will soon see.