Calves are one of the tightest muscles in most people's bodies.
From sitting all day long...
Never focusing on ankle mobility...
Not practicing full ankle range of motion during workouts...
Wearing shoes with high lift and/or too much cushion...
Plus calves tend to get neglected. I know I neglect mine.
This is a stretching... mobility... and smashing routine focusing on your calves and ankles.
Equipment You'll Need
Preferably a massage (trigger) ball
Tennis ball if you don't have a massage or trigger ball
A door jam, box, or chair
A 3 inch yoga block
The Calf And Ankle Stretches and Mobility Routine
30 seconds of ankle rolls per direction... both feet at the same time
30 seconds of foam rolling calf left... all over the calf
30 seconds of foam rolling calf right... all over the calf
30 seconds of dynamic ankle bends on box or chair right
30 seconds of dynmaic ankle bends on box or chair left
60 seconds deep bodyweight squat hold
30 second trigger ball smash left
30 second trigger ball smash right
60 second calf stretch on yoga block left
60 second calf stretch on yoga block right
Total time of routine: 6 Minute 30 Seconds
If you have some time at the end of the workout, hold a kneeling pose for 60 seconds. This will put the ankle in planker flexion... opposite of dorsi flextion, which we kept the ankle in for most of this routine.
BTW... I show kneeling pose/stretch this at the very end of the video.
1. Ankle Rolls
These are simple. Just roll your ankle with one minor tweak... make your ankle circles as big (and smooth) as you can.
I love simple mobility exercises like this. How often do we make an effort to move our joints through their full range of motion?
Not a lot if ever.
I do this as much as I can with my shoulders ( shoulder rolls in my warm up workout )... hips... and waist.
Plus a mobility exercise like this is perfect for slowly warming your body up for a workout and/or stretching routine.
2. Foam Rolling Calf
For this mobility exercise, roll your calf from your Achilles tendon all the way up to the base of your knee.
Stay in the middle...
Go a little to the outside...
Move a little into the inside...
The purpose of rolling with your foam roller... and rolling all over your calf... is to find the specific spots that are sensitive trigger spots. These are the spots that hurt a lot when you press into them... the spots you want to spend some time on.
Make sure you remember these spots... you'll need them later in the routine.
Doing a total body roll with the foam roller is a great way to start a warmup.
It's perfect for getting your blood flowing into muscle tissue. This is step one to warming up a muscle and/or joint.
One thing you should not do it smash your muscles as a warmup. Smashing a muscle is pressing into muscle tissue and holding for a set amount of time... usually at least 60 seconds.
Studies have shown that smashing a muscle causes it to enter a relaxed state. This is something you want to avoid pre-workout.
However, smashing a muscle before bed is a great idea!
3. Dynamic Ankle Bends On Box
Most women have terrible ankle mobility (especially if you wear heels). Yet, your ankles are key to a great squat... lunges... and over all mobility up the chain of your body.
Dynamic ankle bends on a box will help and it will give you control over how far you want to push the stretch. If you struggle with the low squat which we will do in a second... do this exercise instead. It's a great modification.
Place your foot on a box or chair.
Start to push your knee as far past your toes as you can. Make sure your heel stays down. Don't go crazy yet... hold for 20 seconds... release... and try again.
Watch your knee. Try to keep it to the outside of your foot. Don't let it cave in.
When you start to push your knee past your toes... go slow and smooth. Don't push with momentum. If you push too hard or fast, you can tweak your ankles... not what we're trying to do.
4. Deep Squat Hold
You may need to have a door jam... chair... box... something to hold onto for assistance. If you have really tight ankles... this is going to be a hard mobility exercise.
In this routine, we're going for a full minute. For most women... this will be tough.
I want you to focus on a few things:
Push your ankles over your toes... but don't let your heels come up off the ground.
Let your spine round, but gently practice trying to straighten it and see how things feel.
Push your knees out as well... really try to get into your hip joints while you're down here.
Work on holding your core tight... not flexed... just pulled in and tight.
If you need to, use a door jam... box... or chair... try to pull yourself over your feet so you can get int your ankles.
Check this post where I breakdown mobility exercises for tight hips . Mid way down, there's an exercise called low squat with movement. Notice in the second video how I'm holding onto a post for assistance.
Trigger Ball Calf Smash
Remember those trigger spots you found in your calf when you were rolling with the foam roller?
It's time to smash these sensitive spots with a trigger ball.
A trigger ball smash is when you press (HARD) into a specific portion of muscle tissue. Just press... don't roll or fidget. Only press.
Smashing muscles will push all of the blood out of the area and break into the muscle fibers and fascia so when you release... all that blood will come rushing back in and get to areas where it may not have before.
This will help to free up your muscles movement.
What If You Didn't Feel Any Trigger Spots?
Here are some hot spots most women (and men) deal with. Try these:
It's located right below your knee to the outside of your calf. This muscle is notorious for causing knee pain.
Be careful smashing your Achilles tendon hard. Be gentle. The tendon goes up your calf... I like to stay around a third of the way up your calf. While you smash, roll your ankle occasionally.
Knee Bend Smash
Take a small trigger ball, about the size of a tennis ball, and place it in the knee pit.
Bend your knee and press in hard... smashing the ball as if you were cracking a nut. It's a great smash for the gut of your calf muscle.
Calf Stretch On The Yoga Block
I love this stretch.
It's really hard to do. If you're calves are super right... this stretch might be near impossible to do. Don't worry I'll give you a modification in a minute.
Grab a yoga block. I prefer a three inche block. Use a two if you know your calves are really tight.
Step your fore foot on the block with your heel on the ground. Make sure the padding of your forefoot is on the yoga block.
Take your other leg and step it forward as far past the yoga block while keeping your legs straight.
You are going to feel an incredible stretch going up your calf. And this is why we're holding this stretch for 60 seconds. My hope is from all the previous mobility exercises, you should be able to do this stretch.
If you can't because you're so tight... use a wall instead.
Put your forefoot on a wall... keep your leg straight and lean into your leg gently.
Never push a stretch too hard. Be smart!
Stretching Is A Vital Key To Your Fitness Life
I love strength training. It's my life.
I love food. It's my life.
I don't love stretching as much, but it's vital to make strength training and nutrition work for you.
I try to work little routines like this in throughout the day. Your body will love you if you do the same.
Members of my private programs like Fit Women's Weekly LIVE get access to weekly LIVE stretch sessions . During these sessions, we:
Go through mobility exercises
Work on breathing exercises
Plus so much more!
But you need to be a member of FWW LIVE to participate. It's my premium online personal training program . Go learn about it.
Come try FWW LIVE for free. You can sign up for a 14 day free trial if spots are available. Just click above and I'll help get you into our private group.
Go learn about it!
Follow me on social and let's hang out some more. Thanks for reading and I hope this routine works really well for you. Let me know if you use it.
Now go stretch and move your ankles and calves. Let's get your legs feeling great!