Calf Stretch (Gastroc)
This exercise is intended to work on stretching the calf muscles on the posterior (back) aspect of the lower legs. It will focus specifically on stretching the Gastrocnemius muscle. This is the upper calf muscle that forms the rounded shape of the upper calf.
Why do this Exercise?
To increase flexibility of the calf muscles. This will assist with increasing joint ROM within the knee joint.
Wall, Table or Chair.
Standing upright on a firm surface (floor) while using the table/wall/chair for balance and support. Place your hands on the wall/table/chair for support. Place your unaffected foot in front of your affected foot a few inches away from the wall. Bend your unaffected leg slightly. Place the foot of your affected leg straight out behind you about 2-3 feet away from the wall. Keep your heel flat on the ground at all times and maintain a straight leg. Your weight should be mostly distributed on your affected leg. Toes should be pointed straight towards the wall. Maintain a straight back throughout the exercise.
While maintaining the starting posture, begin by slowly leaning your body in towards the wall. Focus on keeping your heel flat on the ground and your leg straight. Once you begin to feel tension/stretch in your upper calf (Gastrocnemius muscle) stop and hold that position for 15-20 seconds. Then slowly return to the upright position, rest for 3-5 seconds and then repeat the stretch 10 times. You can increase from 1 set of 10 reps to 3 sets of 10 reps as flexibility and comfort level increase. This exercise should be performed 2-3 times per day.
This exercise should only be performed within a pain free range of motion. Do not continue this exercise if there is pain, swelling or a significant increase in skin temperature (skin becomes hot/warm to the touch). The recommended repetitions are here to serve as guideline. Keep in mind that each person is different and you must modify your activity according to the feedback your body provides. Do not perform this exercise on a soft surface (i.e. bed) because it will not achieve the desired results. Do not use quick jerky movements with this exercise; it is intended to be performed in a slow and controlled motion.