calf strengthening

Do you want to be a stronger runner? Then its time work your calves

The calves are often over looked by runners, they may get stretched or foam rolled from time to time but that is it. Runners who do strength train will often work on their core, upper body and upper leg strength such as squats and lunges. But again they will skip their calves.

You have 2 muscles that make up your calves, the larger Gastrocnemius and the smaller Soleus and together they are called The Triceps Surae. Green and Pizzari (2017) state that the calf muscles are essential bio mechanical component during movements that require power and endurance such as running.  Your calf muscles propel you up hills and then they control your descent.

STRONGER CALVES

  • Stronger hill runner.
  • More explosive power.
  • Faster runner.
  • Protection against injuries such as Achilles Tendinopathy, calf strains and Plantar Fasciitis.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES 

  1. CALF RAISES: Hold on to the rail and stand on the edge of a step with your heels hanging off the end. Push up on to your toes. Then slowly for a count of 10 drop your heels down below the step. Then push back up on to your toes. Repeat. Aim for 15 reps daily. You an also progress this exercise by doing one leg at a time.
  2. TIP TOE FARMERS WALKS: Hold a pair of heavy dumbells in your hand. Rise up on to your toes and walk forwards for 60 seconds. Do three sets of 60 second walks daily. Your weights should be heavy in order to strengthen your calves.

CONDITIONING WORK

  1. STRETCH: You should stretch after exercise and after the above exercises. Perform any calf stretch such as standing calf stretch, so one foot forward with knee bent, other leg behind, straight with heel on the floor, lean forward.  Or you can stretch by dropping your heels off the step. Make sure your feet facing forward. You can do this single legged too. The other stretch is to find yourself a thick book and place it on the floor. Standing place your toes on the books, heels on the ground and stand tall and lean forward slightly. Hold any of these stretches for 30 seconds and repeat.
  2. FOAM ROLL: Use a foam roller by sitting on the floor with the roller under one leg and the other leg on top. Hands behind you. Roll the roller to the knee and then roll back down towards the ankle. You should also roll your inner and outer calf muscles. Repeat 15 times, do 2-3 sets 3-4 times a week.  Do get deeper or focus on certain areas on your calves then use a tennis ball/lacrosse ball instead of a roller.

All these exercises should help to strengthen your calves and help you to become a stronger runner.