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4 Of The Best Calf Stretches For Runners And Tight Calves

21st February 2022

21st February 2022

By Beth Shelper

If you’re going to be engaging in any form of exercise as part of your healthy diet and lifestyle, make sure you don’t forget to stretch.

We know that sometimes you might “not have time”, or maybe you feel like stretching, warming up and warming down – isn’t completely necessary.

Unfortunately, we’re here to burst that bubble and be the bad guys. Stretching is always necessary, and it’s something you absolutely need to make time for.

Stretching after every single workout, and particularly calf stretches before and after a workout for runners, are hugely important and can have a great affect on your performance, let alone a strong impact in your likelihood of injury.

Don’t believe us? Just check out some of the benefits of calf stretching exercises below.

The benefits of stretching and warming up

  • Increased flexibility
  • Great source of stress relief
  • Relieves feelings of tension and anxiety
  • Soothes painful or muscle groups and areas
  • Reduces headaches (yes, really)
  • Improves your overall posture
  • Greatly minimises your risk of injury
  • Maximises your performance levels
  • Increases blood flow around the body
  • Improves heart health

And last, but not least, stretching can even help improve your sleep: both length and quality. How great is that? Bet you’re not going to skip out on those warm down stretches next time you head to the gym…

How does stretching help tight calves?

Providing both a short and long term solution to tight calves, employing the right stretches at the right time can be the difference between gaining an injury and not.

It’s important to remember that with calf stretches (and all stretches, for that matter), the aim of the game is to gently stretch and lengthen the muscle, rather than causing further damage.

To ensure that the latter isn’t the case, we stress that these are gentle movements, and if executing them causes excess strain or even pain, return to a resting position.

Our 4 favourite calf stretches

If you’re currently suffering with tight calves, or need some inspiration when it comes to how to stretch calf muscles for your next workout session, check these out.

Tight calf stretch #1: The lying calf stretch

The lying calf stretch is one of the most popular calf stretches due to it’s effectiveness. Get ready to feel the burn!

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Begin the stretch by sitting on the floor with your legs out in front of you
  • Grab a resistance band (or a towel, if that’s easier)
  • Find the mid-point of your band or towel and place the ball of your foot in the middle, holding the ends with each in one hand
  • Pull the band or towel towards you, pointing your toes up towards you
  • Continue until you feel an effective stretch in your calf muscles

Continue onto the other leg and repeat this calf stretch to ease your tight calves as necessary.

Calf stretch #2: The step stretch

The step stretch will require a step (or a box) for you to utilise.

Here’s how you can ease your tight calves with a step stretch:

  • Stand on a step (or the box, whichever you have) with your feet together
  • Take the heel of the calf that needs stretching and rest this heel on the back of the step (or box)
  • Drop the heel by bending your parallel leg until you feel the calf stretch
  • Hold and repeat as necessary

Tight calf stretch #3: The classic downward dog

If you’ve ever tried out some yoga, you’ll be familiar with this classic yoga pose. The downward dog is a hugely versatile yoga position, but also an incredibly effective calf stretching exercise. Tight calves, be gone!

  • To begin, stand on all fours (hence, the downward dog) ensuring your knees are positioned behind your hips
  • Spread your hands and feet shoulder width apart with your head directed towards the floor
  • Using your toes, stretch up and press your hands firmly into the floor
  • Continue until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles

Calf stretch #4: The wall lunge

Calling all runners: this is a great calf stretching exercise for you. Commonly referred to as the runner’s wall stretch (we guess that the clue is in the name), this stretch is quick, simple and efficient, making this calf stretching exercise the perfect addition to your workout.

Note: if the name didn't give it away already, you’re going to need a wall.

  • Face the wall, standing tall with your arms and legs hip width apart
  • Place your hands out in front of you onto the flat wall ahead and ensure that there is a bend in your arms, focusing your weight in your feet and heels
  • Bend forward to feel the calf stretch, keeping your heels firmly on the ground


So, there you have it. A whistle-stop tour of how to stretch calf muscles, from the benefits of stretching itself to our favourite calf stretching exercises.

If you’re someone that partakes in a lot of cardio exercise (or, more specifically, if you’re someone that does a lot of running), if you don’t already integrate calf stretches into your workout routine, we definitely recommend getting some of these calf stretching exercises under your belt and into your workout routine.

As always, we’d love to hear from you, so if you have an effective calf stretch that we’ve missed, we want to hear about it. Get in touch with us over on Instagram as always, at @liveinnermost.

‘Til next time! Happy stretching.

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This Is How Sleep Helps You Recover From Exercise And Injury
We’ve all been there. You go for a hard workout, pushing yourself as far as you can and … by the end your reward is a new personal best and a series of aching muscles (or worse an injury). In these scenarios, it can feel frustrating. After such an exercise high, the first thing you want to do is to beat your record again and yet you’re now stuck with the muscle pain wondering how long it will take to heal. The fact is that regardless of an individual’s workout experience, sport recovery is fundamental to muscle repair. While there are many ways to speed up the recovery process like taking our Innermost Recover Capsules or slowly rebuilding the muscles through light walks, most of us frequently neglect the most important form of recovery which is adequate sleep. While one-night of low sleep alone won’t impact long-term recovery, figures show that 77% of adults are not sleeping the recommended 8 hours a day and as many as 18% sleep less than 6 hours. As we’ve previously written about the benefits that exercise can have on sleep, we feel its only fair to highlight the importance that sleep has on workout recovery. Why is sleep so important in recovery? As frustrating as it can be, it’s nigh-on impossible to quickly recover from muscle pain and continue to smash those PBs without adequate rest. While getting a good amount of sleep can seem like a small afterthought (perhaps even a luxury) when we have to fit it around our busy lives, a decent night’s rest is where the body is best at recovering the soft and neural tissues after an intense workout. But just why is that? How is it your body heals faster during sleep and what is the science behind it?    Increased Blood flow Interestingly, this occurs during Non-Rem Stage 3 of the sleep cycle in which the body is in the deepest part of sleep. During this stage the body priorities the repairing and regrowth of body tissue, as well as building bone and muscle (sounds like a good exercise-recovery plan to me). While it might seem like it should be the opposite, the faster recovery can largely be attributed to the increased blood flow and therefore greater flow of oxygen and nutrients to the damaged muscles during this sleep stage. Recovery Hormones A well-rested sleep - in line with the internal body clock - also plays a part in the production and regulation of several hormones that stimulate muscle recovery. During the deep stages of Non-REM sleep for instance the pituitary gland aids in the repairing of muscles through the release of growth hormones. Evidence also shows that a well-rested night contributes to improved performance and pain sensitivity as the hormone prolactin – released during this process – regulates muscle inflammation and allows the body to heal itself effectively. Faster reflex times Another perhaps overlooked benefit of sleep on an individual’s recovery are the improvements to cognitive response it can bring during the muscle rehabilitation process. A faster reflex time is a good example of this. In truth, during a light workout after injury the last thing you want to do is put unwanted pressure on a muscle. An improved reflex time allows an individual to react faster and with clearer judgment to any potential hazards and avoiding a recovery setback through injury inflammation. Improved Mental Wellbeing We know we’ve mentioned this before, but a key benefit of exercise is the positive impact it can have on mental wellbeing – thanks to our good endorphin friends serotonin and dopamine. That’s just another reason why recovering from any injury can be a tough challenge; you lose the elation of a phenomenon like runners high and suddenly, your mood can begin to dip. Getting into the routine of a good night’s sleep can actually contribute to improved mental clarity and wellness. This is because the brain’s ability to process positive emotional information is improved during REM - which occurs more frequently from longer sleep. How to get the best possible sleep While it’s true that a deep sleep is really important to recovering from injury, all this means nothing if you’re tossing and turning all night. To this end, there are a few changes surrounding sleep conditions that can vastly improve an individual’s quality of sleep. Sleeping Comfort The idea of comfort being tied to good sleep, who would have guessed? But you’d be surprised how often we take comfort for granted, especially during period of muscle fatigue or after an injury. While the Mayo Clinic recommends sleeping on your side to improve airway clearance, you should try and sleep in a position that best accommodates the muscle injury – the last thing anyone wants to do is to strain the muscle further during a night’s sleep. If you’re not sure on the best position to not further aggravate an injury, consider seeking advise from your doctor or a medical professional. It’s also a good idea to try and invest in a quality mattress that offers healthy pressure relief on injury pain points to better optimise sleep recovery.    Sleeping Environment Often times, the environment with which we sleep in can be just as important as the bed itself in getting a good night’s rest and repairing the muscles. We’d recommend trying to create a restful, cool, and dark environment away from any reminders of day stresses. This does also mean not using your phone before going to bed – something we’ve all definitely been guilty of – as the light from the screen can disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin and disrupt the sleep cycle. If you’re finding that you just can’t get good enough sleep, it can be a good idea to plan a sleep schedule each night based around how much rest you think you can get. This can also be tailored to the injury rehabilitation process to ultimately get the most out of sleep recovery. Essentially it’s about balance. Be kind, plan for the days you know you might have impacted sleep and try to avoid any rehabilitation exercises the next day.        How much sleep should I get? The key question here; how much sleep is the right amount to speed up muscle recovery? While it’s recommended that you should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours per night depending on age, the exact time, speed, and extent of muscle repair varies greatly from person to person. For a more definitive answer, we’d recommend contacting your local physiotherapist – or general practitioner – who can give advice more tailored towards your specific injury and rehabilitation requirements.    At the end of all this, we hope this this will help with any current or future muscle injuries you may have. While it might seem strange, the recovery stage of a workout is arguably as important as an individual’s diet and perhaps even the exercise itself. To this end, it can be a good idea to think of the recovery as another stage of the workout process and sleep as the unexplored treasure that will help you smash the next PB.   Interested to learn more about workout recovery? Wondering on the best ways to fuel your next workout? Perhaps you have some amazing and inspired ideas to share? Don’t hesitate to message us over on our Instagram @liveinnermost. Read more
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