Many of us avoid foam rolling the calves because of the pain and lack of upper body strength to move along the foam roller. Some admit they foam roll in front of the TV for distraction! This video below shows an effective way to get the most out of the foam roller on your calves without using much upper body strength. You can also focus on specific areas of tightness. Tight calves can be a very troublesome area and can contribute to a number of injuries to the Achilles, foot and lower leg. Improving range of movement in the calves can not only prevent injury and keep you off the treatment table, but it can help with running technique.
From 0:05-0:20 seconds, all I’m doing is rotating my entire leg inwards and outwards to apply pressure on the inside and outside of my calf muscle. The calf muscle has two heads medial and lateral and both will require attention! I can also target the peroneal muscles on the outside of the lower leg by rotating my leg outwards.
From 0:21-0:41 seconds, I have placed my left leg on top of my right leg to add more pressure onto the foam roller. I then move up and down, or rotate my leg to find a tight area with my right foot relaxed. Once I’ve found a tight or sensitive area I stop all movement, then apply a bit more pressure onto the calf and point my right foot towards me. All I have done is pin a sensitive or tight spot in my calf muscle, and created a stronger stretch by pointing my foot towards me, also known as Dorsi flexion.
This calf foam roller release technique is very useful for those who play sport, particularly running, rugby, football, netball and basketball to name a few. It can also help improve your back squat technique which can be limited by poor range of movement in the calves. Try spending at least 20-30 seconds on this technique before or after exercise, and perform it regularly to maximise the benefits!