Calf Rehab Exercises | Sydney Sports Medicine Centre - Education

6 Figtree Drive Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

Calf Muscle Rehabilitation


Main muscles trained:


Gastrocnemius and soleus

Suitable for rehabilitation from:


  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Medial tibial pain
  • Plantar fasciitis

Two different variations of the standard calf raise are used to ensure optimum benefit to both gastrocnemius and soleus. The straight-knee version concentrates the training effect on the large gastrocnemius: this portion of the calf attaches above the knee and so is lengthened when the knee is straight. Longer muscles can produce more force. In the bent knee version, the effectiveness of the gastrocnemius is reduced with the shortened muscle position, thereby placing a greater work load on the shorter soleus. Both versions of the exercise are performed upon a step in order to achieve a full range of motion in the ankle joint.

Progression:

Begin with the double-leg versions at the start level of sets and reps. Progress to the target level sets and reps. Once this can be accomplished at RPE six to 7 out of 10 move on to the single-leg versions, again at the start level. Once target is achieved, add load using the rucksack.
Exercise
Start sets x reps
Target sets x reps
2 x 10 each leg
3 x 20
2 x 10 each leg
3 x 20
2 x 10 each leg: 10 kg rucksack
3 x 20 each leg: 40 kg rucksack
3 x 20 each leg: 10 kg rucksack
3 x 20 each leg: 40 kg rucksack

Technique and range of motion

Please pay attention to the details, particularly those defining the required range of motion.

Calf raise, double, straight leg


Start position:
  • Stand with the balls of your feet on a step or stair.
  • Rear half of the feet are off the step.
  • Stand with your knees completely straight.
  • Stand upright with good posture: tummy in, chest out and shoulders back.
  • Place your fingers on a wall or stair rail for balance.
  • Do not lean or place your weight on to your hands as this will reduce the effectiveness on the calf muscles.

Movement:
  • Lower your heels until you feel a small stretch in your calf/Achilles.
  • Slowly – for a count of two – push up on to your toes.
  • Push all the way up, evenly, placing weight through both your big and little toe joints. This helps you to plantarflex the ankle with good alignment.
  • Maintain good posture throughout the movement.
  • Slowly lower down – for a count of three – until you feel the stretch; then continue.

Calf raise, double, bent leg

Start position:
  • Stand with the balls of your feet on a step or stair.
  • Rear half of the feet are off the step.
  • Do a ‘knee squat’ bending down until your knees are about 40 degrees flexed.
  • Hold the knee squat position with your knees slightly ahead of your toes and hips above your heels.
  • Set your upper body upright with good posture: tummy in, chest out and shoulders back.
  • Place your fingers on a wall or stair-rail for balance.
  • Do not lean or place your weight on to your hands as this will reduce the effectiveness on the calf muscles.

Movement:
  • As for straight leg, except:
  • It is essential to maintain the knee squat position throughout.
  • If you allow the knee to extend as you push up on to the toes you will significantly reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Use your quads to brace the knee squat position at 40 degrees.
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Calf raise, single, straight leg


Start position:
  • Stand with the ball of one foot on the step/stair.
  • Stand with your knee completely straight.
  • Bend your other knee so your leg does not get in the way.
  • Stand upright with good posture using ‘fingertip’ balance as above.
  • Set pelvis using your core muscles.
  • Ensure pelvis is level and that you do not lean or place weight on one hand.

Movement:
  • As for double-leg, except:
  • As you push up on to the toes, ensure you do not ‘hitch’ the hip.
  • It is even more essential that you do not lean or place weight on to your hands.

Calf raise, single, bent leg


Start position:
  • Stand with the ball of one foot on the step/stair.
  • Perform a single knee squat as described above.
  • Hold the 40-degree knee bend position.
  • Bend your other knee so your leg does not get in the way.
  • Stand upright with good posture, using ‘fingertip’ balance.
  • Set pelvis using your core muscles.
  • Ensure pelvis is level.

Movement:
  • As for double leg, except:
  • As you push up on to the toes, ensure you do not ‘hitch’ the hip.
  • It is even more essential that you do not lean or place weight on to your hands.
  • Remember – no cheating by extending your knee. Calf raise, single plus load
  • Perform the exercise with a rucksack on your back.
  • Bottles of water, sandbags or weights in the rucksack increase the load on the calf muscles.
  • 10kg in the rucksack will be a significant increase in body weight.
  • Progress by adding 10kg up to 40kg total load.
  • If you do have access to a barbell, feel free to use this instead!
  • With the increased load, pay extra attention to pelvis, ensuring it remains level throughout

  Sydney Sports Medicine Centre
Level 2, NSWIS Building
6 Figtree Drive
Sydney Olympic Park
NSW 2127

   02 9764 3131      

Written Correspondence
PO Box 3275
Rhodes NSW 2138


  (02) 9764 3443

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