Many women have strong calves, but that firmness can also make your muscles short and tight. Flexibility training will loosen up your lower legs, as well as get rid of aches and spasms that cause discomfort and interfere with daily activities. Learn how to keep your calves in tip top shape.
Benefits of Keeping Your Calves Fit
- Strengthen your legs. Your legs make up much of your body. When you have muscular legs, you burn more calories, even when you’re sitting down. You’ll also boost your energy levels and perform better at many sports, such as tennis or volley ball.
- Enhance your posture. Tight calves can get in the way of your heels hitting the ground naturally as you walk. Staying limber promotes good posture and a healthy gait.
- Avoid injuries. If you have fit calves, you can reduce the risk of falling down or getting a leg cramp while swimming. You’re also less likely to tear tendons and other tissue when your calves are flexible.
Stretches that Target Your Calves
- Do calf raises. Traditional calf raises deliver an effective stretch. Rise up on your toes, and then lower your heels to the ground. Hold onto a chair if you need support. You can intensify the exercise by doing one leg at a time.
- Lean against a wall. Another favorite is the runner’s stretch. Stand up and place both of your hands against the wall. Keeping your body at arm’s distance from the wall, move one foot behind the other. Then, bend your front leg forward and hold the stretch. Switch legs and repeat.
- Grab a towel. Lie flat on your back with your legs in the air. Reach your arms up and wrap a towel or strap around one foot. Take turns pointing your toes up and then bending from the ankle. Raise your heel and lower your toes toward your shin. Repeat on both sides.
- Practice downward dog. The best known yoga pose, the downward dog, gives your calves a solid workout. If you have trouble doing the full position at first, try lowering one heel to the ground at a time.
Other Activities to Tone and Protect Your Calves
- Eat right. All of your muscles require certain nutrients. Eat a diet rich in vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
- Drink plenty of water. Adequate water is also vital for calves and other muscles. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day from liquid and food sources.
- Avoid overexertion. Fatigue can be hard on your calves. Schedule time to warm up, and increase the intensity of your workouts gradually.
- Play sports. Any game that involves running and jumping will shape up your calves. Gentle walks are good, too.
- Treat spasms promptly. Home remedies are enough to deal with most charley horses. Discontinue a stretch or any activity you started before the cramp hit. Massage the area with your fingers.
- Talk with your doctor. Consult your physician if you experience frequent cramps or soreness. Your health team can rule out more serious causes and help you find relief.
- Wear flats. Too much time in high heels can shorten your calves for good. If you wear heels at work, change into flats for your commute and while you’re alone at your desk.
- Buy new boots. Similarly, some boots put too much pressure on women’s calves. Look for stretchy fabrics or wider styles. Consider shoe boots or styles that rise no higher than your ankles.
Calves get a serious workout each day just from carrying your body weight as you walk around. Keep them flexible, as well as strong. You’ll wind up with healthier legs, as well as fewer aches and cramps.