A Answers (2)
Vonda Wright, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answeredCalves are important in every step we take and look really great when they are in shape. The calves are actually made up of two muscles: the gastrocnemius, which crosses the knee and ankle, and the soleus, which crosses only the ankle. The ends of the gastroc and soleus tendons fuse in the lower part of the leg as the Achilles tendon. Keeping the calves flexible is not only important for preventing calf tears but for preventing the ever troublesome Achilles tendonitis or rupture. The calf stretch is also very important for women who wear heels all the time. Despite being an orthopedic surgeon, I am one of these women. (I just can't help it.) For us, there is an added urgency of keeping our calves and Achilles flexible because when we wear heels, we walk around with our muscles in a shortened state. Our muscles can actually get so tight and short that we have pain even when walking in flat shoes.
National Academy of Sports Medicine answeredThe calf is comprised of two muscles the gastrocnemius and soleus which fuse at the Achilles tendon and when they contract, they flex the foot to allow you to plant on the balls of your feet. As you land when you walk or run or squat down to sit or perform exercises the calf muscles must stretch to allow your foot to flatten and your shin to come forward. If your calf muscles are excessively tight you will constantly walk and stand on the balls of your feet this impairs your ability to move properly, to squat down and to walk normally. Excessively tight calf muscles are prone to tearing, increase your risk of Achilles tendon tears, and are weak. Holding stretches for 30 seconds that stretch the calf muscles several days a week will improve range of motion, decrease risk of tearing and help the calf muscles produce proper levels of force.