Shape.com “Why You Should Be Doing Calf Workouts—Plus One to Try”
"’The gastrocnemius and soleus work as a shock absorber and a powerful plantar flexor of the foot,’ says Yolanda Ragland, D.P.M., a podiatric surgeon, and founder and CEO of Fix Your Feet. The gastrocnemius functions mostly in locomotion (walking, running, even biking) since it crosses multiple joints (the ankle and knee), she explains. And the soleus is an anti-gravity structure—meaning, it's a muscle that primarily works to maintain an upright stance and is important for movements where you have to work against gravity (like jumping), she says.”
“In addition to the performance benefits, your calves assist with movement in the feet and affect your ability to balance. ‘The calves play an important role not only for the upper leg and maintaining posture but also have significant impacts on the feet,’ says Dr. Ragland. "Our body's center of gravity is towards the front of the body, which causes the body to lean forward. However, we do not naturally lean forward due to the counteraction of our continuous state of plantar flexion [by the calf muscles], providing upright stability and supporting posture,’ she explains.”
“Because the calves are interconnected with multiple joints, including the ankle and knee, they affect many of the tendons in this area. When you have shortened (aka tight) or weakened calves, it can indirectly or directly lead to a multitude of foot ailments, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis (an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon), and ankle sprains and fractures, among other foot issues, says Dr. Ragland.”
“Dr. Ragland says that the lower portion of the calves that forms the Achilles tendon inserts into the calcaneus, the largest bone of the foot, which reinforces ankle stability—something that plays a big role in squatting, too.”
“‘A tight hip flexor can result in a tight and short hamstring that can cascade down to the gastrocnemius. This condition is called the 'reciprocal effect of tight hip flexors,' says Dr. Ragland. If your hamstrings and calves are tight, Dr. Ragland advises stretching the hips and strengthening your glutes, inner-thigh muscles, and core. ‘If you strengthen these other areas, the hamstrings and calves do not have to do all the work, and moderately lengthening the gastrocnemius will avoid injuries like a muscle pull and torn tendons,’ she explains.”
Read the full story on Shape.com by Tiffany Ayuda.