After a fun Friday night at Madison Square Garden where my dear friend Michele I did some serious shaking in our seats at the Pitbull / Enrique Iglesias “Euphoria” concert, I woke up with some strained vocal chords and some super sore calves. This made the decision on what to write my next blog about pretty simple. Regardless of whether or not you like to dance to Pitbull while wearing heels, overactive calf muscles present another common problem area for many people.
The calf muscles consist of the Gastrocnemius, the big muscle at the back of the lower leg; and the Soleus, the smaller muscle lower down in the leg and under the Gastrocnemius. Women aren’t the only ones who suffer from tight calves. Men who wear dress shoes for work everyday are also contending with some sort of heel in their footwear. Wearing heels puts your feet in a prolonged state of plantarflexion, which puts stress on the calves. When you add the heel factor to all the daily activities you use your calf muscles for, ranging from getting out of bed to getting up a flight of stairs, it’s no wonder they get tight.
Discomfort aside, there are more serious consequences to having tight calves. By having the Soleus and Gastrocnemius in a constant shortened state, they will demonstrate poor neuromuscular efficiency which can affect joint motion and alter movement patterns. Often, tight calves lead to tight hamstrings and tight hamstrings throw off the proper performance of everything from squats at the gym to walking in everyday life. This all puts incorrect loads on your knees and your back, and then your upper body function is thrown off, as well. Tight calves also put you at greater risk for ankle injuries and shin splints and even problems with your feet, including Plantar Fasciitis.
The good news is stretching your calf muscles isn’t difficult and not time consuming. Click here to be directed to a link featuring several effective stretches for your calves.
Another amazing tool that can help take the tension out of sore calf muscles is the foam roller, which activates a stretching technique called self-myofascial release. Be sure to check back in on Wednesday when I’ll post more about how using the foam roller helps me deal with my overactive calf muscles. Remember, I will never be able to adequately express the importance of flexibility training when it comes to staying on course along this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!