Important for stability, posture and mobility, our calf muscles can also be a source of pain when they cramp or feel tight. Sitting down a lot or not moving much can be a major source of tightened calf muscles, and exercising them regularly can help allay such problems, as well as keeping your legs in great shape. The low-intensity exercise of calf raises is simple but is an excellent way to strengthen and tone your calf muscles, when done regularly.
Getting in the starting position
Stand up straight, grasping a chair or wall for balance.
Position your feet hip-width apart.
Performing the exercise
Slowly raise your heels until you’re on your tiptoes. Balance your body weight on the balls of your feet.
Pause for a minute, then slowly lower yourself. Repeat.
To make this exercise more challenging, try balancing your body weight on the ball of only one foot. Tuck your left foot behind your right heel and repeat the above steps. Then switch sides.
To further increase difficulty, try doing your sets with a ten pound (4.5kg) dumbbell in each hand. Be careful not to lose your balance!
Do 15 to 20 repetitions of this exercise per set. Repeat until you’ve completed 3 to 4 sets.
In order to start seeing/feeling results, aim to do 3 to 4 sets 4 days a week for 6 to 8 weeks. For faster results, increase the number of sets/times per week you do this exercise. Also consider super-setting it with front lunges.
Other variations There are several other ways to stretch those calf muscles, such as:
Find a set of stairs, a large, stable block of wood, or a platform about 8 inches (20cm) high (with stairs, always use the bottom stair, not any higher stair). Position yourself so you can hold on to a railing, a door jamb, or a wall. Follow the steps detailed above, but instead of stopping when your heels are flat, bring them all the way down.
Do jumping jacks without letting your heels touch the ground. Only do this on a soft surface though, to avoid jarring anything if you don’t land well.
Put most of your weight on your toes when you walk. Use your toes to push off from each step, using your ankles as a spring. You can try this around the house, when walking home after a day’s sitting at work, etc.
The benefits of these exercises are increased strength and flexibility in your calves.
To make this exercise less challenging, lay in bed and place your feet flat against a wall. Push your toes hard against the wall. This method is also a great way to maintain your calves if you find you don’t have time to do regular calve raises consistently.
Potential injuries to your Achilles Tendon may be incurred if this exercise is performed incorrectly. Be particularly careful—injuring this tendon may cause you lifelong problems.
Those with poor balance should be careful when performing this exercise.
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