Injury: Tight Calves
Yoga Pose: One Side, Angled Forward Bend with Ankle Flexion
Why: Most people recognize that tight calves need to be stretched. This is a good instinct but the secret is to make sure that the calf muscle feels protected during the stretch. Muscles have intelligence. The reason they tighten is due to a protective measure in the human body. Therefore, if you just try to stretch them, the protective instinct doesn’t know to switch off.
The key is to make sure the calf “feels safe” by being engaged before it stretches. Because this is somewhat subtle, I recommend doing this “one-side at a time” technique in order to focus.
- Stand facing a wall or a table
- Step one foot forward to the base of the wall or put the front foot on a rolled up towel or blanket.
- The goal here is to have the foot flexed (ball of the foot higher on the roll or on the wall)
- The heel of the front foot will still be on the floor
- The back foot is a few feet back and turned slightly open
- Place both hands on the wall or the table
- Without moving the front foot, press the ball of the foot down into the roll and the heel down into the floor and drag the front foot backward isometrically (pull back without moving it). This will engage the calf muscle (and the hamstring)
- Move your hands wide enough to bend your elbow and bend forward. The further your bend forward, the more you will stretch the front calf muscle.
- Keep the calf muscle engaged throughout
- Switch legs