Are you the victim of tight calves as a result of wearing high heels or working out? If so, follow these three steps. Relief is on the way!
1. Self-massage your calves with a foam roll*
• Lying face up on the floor, place one leg on a foam roll, as shown. Use the other leg to help support your weight as you roll.
• Prop yourself up on your elbows, keeping your shoulders back and down, and your bellybutton pulled in toward your spine.
• Starting at your ankle, slowly roll up toward your knee, stopping when you feel a tender area.
• Stay on the tender area for approximately 20 seconds, or until 50% of the tenderness has subsided.
* If you suffer from varicose veins or any type of vascular problem, do not do this exercise.
2. Perform a standing calf stretch
• Position your feet as shown and lean against a solid vertical surface, such as a wall.
• Keep both feet pointed straight ahead.
• Straighten your back leg by squeezing your quads and glute. Make sure the heel of the back foot does not come off the floor.
• Draw your bellybutton in toward your spine and slowly lean your entire body against the vertical surface.
• Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch legs to stretch the other side. Repeat 2-3 times for each leg.
3. Strengthen the muscles that work with your calves by doing a single-leg balance exercise
• Place both feet on the floor, pointing straight ahead. Make sure your whole body is in good posture: knees in line with your feet, hips in neutral, shoulders slightly retracted, and chin tucked back toward your neck.
• Create an arch in the foot of the balance leg by squeezing the glute of that leg. Slowly shift your weight onto the balance leg. Lift your free leg slightly off the floor and hold it there. (You may use it as a kick-stand if you have difficulty balancing).
• Hold the single-leg balance position for 20 seconds, or as long as you can maintain good form and posture. Then switch legs to stretch the other side. Perform 3 sets on each leg.