Expert explains why enjoying exercise is important
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Strong calves help build a strong, healthy and balanced body and training them also lengthens the muscles, which in turn improve mobility which allows for greater range of movements for the big lifts, like deadlifts and squats. The calf is made up of two superficial muscles: the upper gastrocnemius; and the lower soleus, which both join together to become your achilles tendon and attach onto your heel.
Calf muscles propel you forward with every single step and absorb load with each impact, supporting the rest of the lower limb and body.
But gaining decent calf strength, a person can prevent long-term injuries, such as tears, strains, sprains, tendinopathies of the knee, ankle and foot, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis.
Expert Jenna Cartwright at Sport and Spinal Physiotherapy, suggests following these four exercises to strengthen the calf muscles.
1. Straight Knee Calf Raises
To do this exercise, place both feet on the ground and slowly lift the heel up until standing on your toes.
Ensure that you’re keeping your weight over all toes evenly and your knees straight and slowly lower back down.
Jenna recommends beginning with three sets of 10 repetitions – add weights or more reps for a challenge
2. Bent Knee Calf Raises
The same as before, but this time with a slight bend in the knee.
To increase the intensity you can progress by adding more reps and sets, doing it single leg, or by using weights.
3. Seated Calf Raise
A person will find this machine in the gym, but it is easy to re-create a home.
Sit on a seat and place the toes on a step or stool with the heel hanging off.
Place the weight onto the knees and slowly lower your heels down past parallel and raise back up as far as possible.
Jenna suggests challenging yourself with by making the reps faster and increasing the weight.
Another great way to strengthen your calves is with hopping.
Jenna explains: “Essentially, hopping is several (or more) explosive calf raises in a row.
“It’s also more functional because it replicates tasks that usually cause calf issues such as running.
“Basically, running is a series of single leg hopping and calf raises over distance. To a lesser extent so is walking and to a greater extent, sprinting.”
A person can be more adventurous when it comes to hopping, changing from
On the spot
These can all be progressed to faster, higher, less contact time or with obstacles.
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