This is a great exercise to improve strength for those who take part in sports where you need to run. The calf muscle group is made of two muscles, Gastrocnemius and Soleus which both attach onto the Achilles Tendon. When we run the calf muscle group is under a lot of pressure as it may have to cope with loads up to double our body weight. In this video I demonstrate how to perform this Advanced Single Leg Calf Raise.
As mentioned in the video above, the main key point is to maintain a straight line from shoulders, hips, knees and ankles throughout the entire exercise. By doing this, you will force the ankle into near enough full dorsi flexion (bringing your foot towards your body) and increase the length of your calf muscles and the Achilles tendon. When you perform the exercise and lift your heels up from the ground, you move from hyper dorsi flexion into plantar flexion (pointing feet away from your body) working the calf muscle and Achilles tendon to it’s full potential and full range of movement.
If we can get a bit more technical (I promise you won’t get too lost here), when you run there are a few phases in the gait cycle. Gait is the way we walk or run. During the Toe off phase of the gait cycle, your toes will be in contact with the floor but knee will be forwards waiting to go into the next stride, or the next phase of gait called the Swing Phase. The Advanced Single Leg Calf Raise put you into a very similar, if not the same position as you push off into the Toe off phase of the gait cycle. This is why this is a great exercise to build up strength in your calves, and very relevant to running sports.
If you are struggling with calf pain, or are recovering from a calf injury this may not be an exercise for you just yet! If you are injured or have calf pain don’t perform this exercise, seek advice from an injury therapist and keep injury free!