This video demonstrates the modification to the gastrocnemius and soleus stretches. This modification will hopefully help make the stretch easier to attain.
What you should feel
You should be aiming for a mild-to-moderate stretch into the calf (back of your lower leg). During the soleus stretch, the stretch is usually felt lower down in the calf (the bottom 1/2), closer to the Achilles’ tendon. The gastrocnemius stretch is usually felt a bit higher up, closer to the back of the knee. You want to make sure you keep the stretch intensity so that you can “relax into it” rather than tensing up your muscles due to discomfort.
Pain is not expected with these exercises, but some discomfort associated with the stretch is expected. Stop this exercise if you are unsure about what you are feeling or if it is painful in an unexpected way.
Gastrocnemius & Soleus Stretch Modification
Here are the instructions and there is a video below that explains it all:
- You’ll need a wedge–something about 2-3 inches tall at the most.
- Stand beside a wall and step forward with one leg (you’ll be stretching the back leg).
- Keep your feet pointing straight forward to start (there are exceptions to this).
- For the soleus stretch: Keep a slight bend in your back knee. You need to keep this bend throughout the exercise.
- For the gastrocnemius stretch: Keep your back knee straight throughout the entire exercise.
- Step on the wedge with the ball of your back foot, to bend your ankle up.
- Lunge forward on the front knee and keep the heel of the back leg flat on the ground.
- You are trying to dorsiflex or bend the back ankle so that the toes are going toward the front of the shin. In order to do this you’ll need to keep that heel on the ground!
mdkPHYSIO provides specific parameters to all patients. In general, stretches should be held for about 30 seconds and performed 4 times in a row. Daily frequency varies depending on the issue, timing and how you respond to the stretch. A intense but comfortable stretch should be felt. I usually tell people a “moderate” stretch that allows you to “relax” while stretching. You should not be tensing up due to discomfort as you stretch as this will be less productive.