Are you properly targeting the calf muscle complex to have the strength, power, and resilience necessary to meet the demands of running? Properly is the key word in that sentence. Let’s talk about that…
If we think about running for a second, you are literally bounding from one leg to the other while withstanding forces around 2-4x your bodyweight. This is important to conceptualize because I see a lot of runners only performing two-legged calf raises. Although there are no “bad exercises,” it’s hard to see how these carryover to running unless it’s a recovery day or you are rehabilitating from a plantar fascia and/or achilles injury and it’s a stepping stone in your progression.
With that being said, it’s important for your program to be as specific as possible. Not only do you want to progress basic two-legged calf raises to perform the more challenging and applicable single leg variations, but we must also respect the biomechanics of running.
In the stance phase of running, the knee is always in a slightly flexed position that later extends in the propulsion phase. What we learn when looking more closely at anatomy and the research, is that this slight knee bend biases the deeper Soleus muscle more heavily then the outermost Gastrocnemius.
What does this mean?
In addition to single leg exercises, we must also target the deeper Soleus muscle to incorporate a more diverse calf strengthening routine. This approach respects the anatomy and biomechanics of running so you can see the best results possible.
In this video, I talk about…
- Calf anatomy
- The biomechanics of running
- How to properly progress your calf raises
- Diversifying your routine while biasing the Soleus muscle
Click below to watch the entire demonstration!
I hope this video blog helps you understand the importance of a more specific but diverse calf strengthening program. If you have questions about calf strengthening, are suffering from a lower leg overuse injury, or are interested in learning more about the Healthy Running Program, click here and let’s talk more.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART