These calf stretches use Active Isolated Stretching which is, by far, the most effective way to improve the resting length of the calf muscles and prevent injury.
By putting the foot into three different positions - neutral, inversion, and eversion - we can have the greatest impact on all the muscle fibers of the calf.
Also, by not weight-bearing on the calf (such as is done with a standing calf stretch) this technique offers the deepest, most comprehensive stretch available for the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.
Calf Stretch with Yoga Strap - seated
Description & instructions
For this calf stretch we'll use a yoga strap. Position the strap on the ball of the foot (or just below) so that we can control the foot. We begin by flexing the foot back and, at the end of the range of motion, pulling with the yoga strap. We are not only pulling with the strap but actively flexing the foot back and, at the end of the range of motion, deepening the stretch by pulling back with yoga strap. This is active isolated stretching. We will do five repetitions in each position.
Now we'll wrap the foot so that we can bring it into an inverted position. From an inverted state, we are going to repeat our flexing back of the foot. Flex the foot back and at the end of the range of motion pull with the yoga strap too deepen that stretch. You are also using the yoga strap to help maintain the foot in an inverted state.
After five repetitions we will move the foot over to and everted position. The foot doesn't evert very far so just take it as far as it can go. Then repeat flexing the foot back and using the yoga strap to deepen the stretch for a repeated 2-second stretch, not holding the stretch. You'll feel this in each of the three positions in different aspects of the calf.
Last, we'll do roll-throughs. Bring the foot from an inverted position through to an everted position. Again, use the yoga strap to control the foot through the entire range of motion. Then we'll go in the other direction rolling through from eversion to inversion. We're just doing 5 repetitions in each of these positions, but you can certainly do more, up 10 or 12 repetitions in each position as needed.
Calf Stretch with Yoga Strap - Supine
Description & instructions
First will lie on our backs, take the yoga strap and wrap it on the ball of the foot. You'll notice that I am wearing a shoe here. This is a helpful strategy to be able to control the foot better with the yoga strap.
Our first position will be in neutral and we'll begin by flexing the foot back and, at the end of the range of motion, pull down with the yoga strap. You are not only pulling down with the yoga strap, but doing both things: the foot is actively flexing and the yoga strap is pulling at the end of the range of motion. Do 5 repetitions.
Now we'll put the foot into what's called inversion and we'll repeat with 5 repetitions again. Notice that the yoga strap is used to help the foot maintain an inverted position. Also notice that this stretches the calf in a different location than the neutral position.
Then swing the foot over into eversion. The foot doesn't go very far into eversion but just take it as far as it will go. Repeat 5 repetitions again using the yoga strap to assist in maintaining an everted foot.
Last we'll do roll-throughs where where we start from inversion and roll through to eversion. Repeat a couple of times. Then reverse and roll through from the eversion to inversion several times. Make sure to fully control the foot. This concludes our sequence.