Your calf consists of two muscles: the gastronemius and the soleus. These muscles allow for movement of your foot and ankle. Tight calf muscles are a common complaint. They occur as a result of living a sedentary lifestyle or because of strenuous exercise. Stiff calf muscles can be painful and limit your ability to participate in physical activity, but simple stretching exercises can help to loosen them.
Stretch your gastronemius -- your outer calf muscle -- by first sitting on the floor with both legs extended in front of you with your heels touching the ground and your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Loop a resistance band around the balls of your feet and hold a resistance band end in each hand. Slowly flex your feet in the direction of your body. Stretch until you feel a pull in the back of your leg, and hold this position for a count of five. Relax. Repeat one set of 10 repetitions.
Perform a soleus -- inner calf -- stretch. Sit on the floor with your left leg straight and the other bent with your heel touching the floor. Grasp your left foot and pull it in the direction of your body as far as you comfortably can, keeping your heel on the floor. Hold this position for a count of five. Relax and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions for each leg.
Stretch your Achilles tendon, which attaches your heel to your calf. Sit on the ground with your left leg straight and your right leg bent. Slide your right heel as close to your buttock as possible. Slowly pull the top of your foot closer to your body while your heel remains on the ground. Hold this position for five seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times for each heel.
Perform calf raises by first standing with your hands holding the back of a chair or table. Slowly raise your heels off the ground so that you are standing on your toes and the balls of your feet. You should feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds. Relax and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions.
To reduce your risk of injury, always warm up and stretch before beginning any exercise program or participation in sports. Five to 10 minutes of warm-ups can help to loosen your muscles and prevent injuries.
If you experience tight calf muscles in addition to pain, stiffness, bruising, weakness or tenderness, visit your physician. You may be experiencing a strain, rupture or tear in your calf muscle. Only your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis.