Just like in any other muscle group, the calves can become weaker due to lack of use or damage. So if you have a job that requires prolonged sitting or standing, it is important to adjust your workouts accordingly to avoid weak calf muscles. In this article, we’ll name some of the exercises to help strengthen your calf muscles and make them more resilient for the long hours at work!
Before we get to that, let’s talk about the calf muscle…
What is the Calf Muscle?
The calf muscle is in your lower body and is used primarily for standing, walking, and running. The calf muscle is composed of two muscles; the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
The gastrocnemius runs from the back of your knee to just below your knee cap. It assists in plantar flexion (toes moving toward shin) and also in dorsiflexion (lifting toes).
The soleus runs from just below your knee cap to the heel on the inside of your foot. It assists in plantar flexion but not dorsiflexion.
These muscles allow you to lift up your toes and help you lift up from a seated position, when standing, or when walking or running. When your foot is hanging over a ledge or the top step of stairs, it helps you support yourself in a standing position by acting as an ankle plantar flexor.
The presence of this muscle also protects your knee joint from extension stresses caused by rapid changes in weight distribution. Specifically, the calf muscle acts to reduce the stress caused by changing the weight distribution of your body, e.g., when you shift your weight to your toes or when you jump.
The calf muscle works together with muscles in the rest of the body to move your lower leg.
Reasons for Weak Calf Muscles
The calf muscles are one of the most used muscle groups in your body; so it is very prone to injury. This is because it works together with other muscles to transmit forces from the ground up through your lower leg and into your foot and leg. Most of these forces work to counteract the force of gravity, especially when you stand up or walk around. Weakness in calf muscles can be caused by overuse, underuse, and also certain diseases. Specifically, they can be caused by:
For example, first, you walk from your home to the office, then from your office to a restaurant, then from the restaurant to a supermarket for grocery shopping, and then walk home. With all of these walking activities, it was not surprising that you will have problems with your calves at the end of each day.
For example, if you are employed as a flight attendant and have to constantly climb up and down the stairs with heavy flight-bags on both hands while having to serve passengers with drinks or take orders at the same time. Hence, it was not surprising that you will have problems with your calves at the end of each day.
An injury from a sports or other activities
For example, if you are a basketball player jumping off the ground and landing on your feet and then pushing off to jump again, it was not surprising that you will have problems with your calves at the end of each day.
For example, if you are a diabetic and the lack of blood supply to your foot can cause weakness in your calf muscles.
As mentioned earlier, weakness in calf muscles can be caused by all of these reasons, but it is very rare that it is caused by just one of them. If a person complains of weakness in their calves along with other symptoms (such as feeling tired after doing physical activities such as walking or running), or if you have been diagnosed with an injury (e.g. sports injury) causing weakness in your calves, then it is likely that the lack of blood supply to those muscles is the reason. It causes the muscle to atrophy because it will not be used and hence lose strength over time.
5 Exercises for Weak Calf Muscles
Double-Leg Calf Raises
Stand on the edge of a step with your feet together and your heels hanging over the edge. Use one hand to hold onto something for balance. Slowly raise both heels up, so that you are balancing on just your toes. Slowly lower back down.
Seated Calf Raise
Sit on a chair and place both heels on a second chair in front of you, using the toes of your feet to hold onto the edge of the chair with your hands. Slowly lift both heels up and lower back down.
Jumping Calf Raises
Stand on top of a step or stair with your toes hanging over the edge. Slowly lower yourself down and then quickly jump up, using your heels to push off. Repeat.
Stand in front of a step that is roughly knee height and place one foot on top, so that your heel hangs over the edge. Slowly raise yourself up onto the step while keeping your heels on the ground, making sure to keep them flat like you would if you were standing on it normally. Then lower back down. Make sure you are balancing properly with both feet by keeping both heels flat on the ground when raised and not allowing yourself to fall forward or backward as you do this exercise.
Wall Sit Calf Raise
Exercises like the wall sit calf raise can either be performed as an isometric exercise, in which you hold the contraction the entire time or as repetitions of calf raise. Strengthening your muscles and increasing your endurance will come from holding the exercise. Good form is crucial for this exercise to be effective.
In conclusion, strength in your calves is crucial to everyday life and there are things you can do to strengthen your weak calf muscles. From the ability to walk along uneven surfaces, to the need for strong calf muscles while playing sports or running, they are very important. Weakness in calf muscles can be caused by many different things, but there are a few ways you can strengthen them.
If you are pursuing one of these methods to strengthen your calves and continue to have pain or weakness after several weeks of working on it, it may indicate a more serious problem. Make sure that you consult a medical professional for further assistance.
Thank you for reading.
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