Calf Stretches Every Runner Should Know About

Stretching your calf muscles every day is important no matter what type of workout you prefer, but calf stretches are essential in a runner's routine. Runners ask their calves to work hard during the run, and if they aren't properly stretched, cramping and injuries can occur. According to Marathon Handbook, "Our calves are a powerhouse for our running, and how strong and healthy they are, dictates just how much power we can put into our stride." For some runners, their calves can be difficult to keep healthy.

There are five stretches that every runner should incorporate into their stretching routine to allow the calf muscles to repair and recover from daily run exercise. Skipping stretching can lead to some of the most painful injuries such as shin splints, calf strains, and the dreaded plantar fasciitis (via Women's Health). Committing to completing these stretches every day will leave your calf muscles healthy and your legs happy.

The traditional calf stretch

A tried-and-true favorite, the traditional calf stretch will remind you of your high school track season. Simply stand near a wall, keeping your back leg straight while bending your opposite knee and leaning toward the wall. By keeping your heel down and pressing towards the wall, you can giving your calf a nice massage. Hold for about 20–30 seconds and repeat on the other side (via Active). This stretch will specifically help you achieve the power from your push off when you run.

Single leg heel drop stretch

To complete the single leg heel drop stretch, stand on a box, a curb, or a step in your home. Choose a foot and place the ball of that foot on the edge of the surface you're standing on. Allow your heel to drop toward the ground and hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Repeat on the other calf (via Marathon Handbook). Short on time? Try completing this stretch for both calves at the same time.

Double wall stretch

Much like the traditional calf stretch, position your body so that you are facing a wall with your feet hip width apart. Keeping the weight in your heels, place your hands against the wall and lean into the wall, feeling the stretch in both calves at the same time. For a deeper stretch, stand a bit farther back from the wall (via Active). Don't have an open wall? You can complete this stretch against any flat surface. Stay in this position for 30–40 seconds and feel the massage in your calf muscles.

Seated single leg calf stretch

For the seated single leg calf stretch, sit on the floor with one leg bent and the other straight out in front of you. Bend at the waist and reach for your extended foot with a band or your hands. Lower your chest closer to your shin. Make sure to avoid pulling your torso down, just lower close enough so that you can feel the stretch for about 30–40 seconds. For a deeper stretch, rotate your toes to the left and the right and feel how that changes this stretch for you (via Women's Health).

Downward dog stretch for your calves

For the downward dog stretch, begin in a plank position. Push your hips up and adjust your weight until you've formed an inverted V with your hips. Keeping your head between your elbows, create a straight line with your back. Make sure to press your heels to the ground and hold for 30–40 seconds (via Marathon Handbook). Feel free to alternate pressing your heels toward the floor.

Our calves are so important to our mobility. Unhealthy calves make it so we cannot run or walk without pain. Add a couple of these stretches into your post-run routine to keep your calves healthy, massaged, and pain-free.