When you think about stretching, you probably picture static stretching -- holding a certain position for 20 to 30 seconds. However, dynamic stretching uses movement to improve flexibility in your muscles. Dynamic calf stretches are particularly beneficial before activities that rely heavily on these muscles, such as running or jumping.
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Toe and Heel Walks
Toe and heel walks stretch and warm up muscles in your calves.
HOW TO DO IT: Walk on the balls of your feet, then walk on your heels while keeping the balls of your feet off the ground. Alternate after a set distance or time of your choosing, and continue for 30 seconds.
To properly target your calf muscles, keep your toes pointed forward as you perform lunges.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step your right leg forward, approximately 12 to 18 inches. Keeping your body upright, bend both knees and lower down until your back knee lightly touches the ground. Stand back up and switch legs. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
Mountain climbers strengthen your chest and core muscles while stretching your calves.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank position -- the beginning position for a push-up. Keeping your arms and torso still, pull your right knee up toward your chest. At the same time, push your left heel backward until you feel a stretch in your left calf. Straighten your right leg back out and draw your left knee toward your chest. Repeat this pattern, alternating legs as quickly as possible without losing your plank position. Repeat for 30 seconds.
The quick calves stretch also begins in a plank position.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank position. Maintaining this position, press your right heel backward until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 2 seconds, then switch and press the left heel backward. Continue alternating sides for 10 to 15 repetitions.
The step stretch can be performed using stairs or another sturdy surface, approximately six inches in height. To make this stretch less intense, perform the exercise on both legs at the same time.
HOW TO DO IT: Place the ball of your foot on a step. Rise up on your toes for 1 to 2 seconds, then lower down until your heel is hanging below the edge of the step. In this position, you should feel a stretch along your calf. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then rise back up on your toes. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
Read more: How to Stretch the Gastrocnemius & Soleus