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How to Strengthen an Atrophied Calf Muscle

author image Linda Ray
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."
How to Strengthen an Atrophied Calf Muscle
Physical therapist stretching calf muscle Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Calf muscles atrophy for a number of reasons. Disuse following leg surgery, disease, nutritional deficiencies and genetic problems can cause the muscles in the calves to become weak and soft. Exercise, stretching and daily use can help with rehabilitation.

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Step 1

Execute calf raises once you can bear weight on the leg. Stand straight with your knees slightly bent and your arms loose at your sides. Place your feet about shoulder-width apart and rise up onto your toes. Hold for a count of three and lower your heels. Start with 20 repetitions and increase the number of calf raises a few each day until you can comfortably do 100.

Step 2

Perform calf raises seated on a stability ball for variation and additional strengthening. Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor in front of you and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Push up on your toes and hold for a couple seconds. The ball should rise and fall with your movements. Repeat 10 times. Hold a free weight on your lap to add more resistance and build up your strength.

Step 3

Use a step to do heel drops. Stand with your toes and the balls of your feet on the edge of a step and hold onto the walls, banisters or a stable object to balance yourself. Lower your heels so that you feel your calf muscles stretching. Hold for a count of 10 and slowly rise up again. Use both feet and initially place most of your weight on your good leg. Increase the pressure on the healing leg as it gets stronger. Repeat 10 times, three times per day.

Step 4

Execute heel drops using just your atrophied leg. Put all of your weight on the one leg while bending your knee on your other leg so that it is not involved in the exercise. Repeat five times twice a day until you can perform 10 with little or no discomfort.

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