I’ve been doing heavy calf work for about a year and actually have good development and strength but…Even though I stretch my calves between each set they are tight as hell and seem to be getting tighter. Its starting to cause a problem when I squat. Any ideas?
You definitly need to do more stretching… even if you already are doing some. Stretch before you start calf work, then after each set, and also after all the calf work is done. When you stretch them, try stretching both at the same time. Then as soon as you are done stretching them that way, stretch them one at a time.
Another thing to pay attention to is that the tightness you speak of might not be a lack of flexibility in your calves. It might be a lack of flexibility in your hamstrings. So make sure you are doing plenty of hamstring stretches as well.
Good advice, but watch range of motion as well. Especially on seated raises.
Well to be honest I spend quite a bit of time stretching them standing on each leg on a block. I do mostly seated calf raises in 1 heavy drop set but I add in some standing every week or so. I don’t have good flexibility in my hams either but my calves are torn to peices when I use the stairstepper for cardio. I can’t keep my heels down.
I think the most important thing in any stretching you do is breathing properly while you do it. I watch people stretching and too often they hold their breath in the midst of a stretch which jams the muscle up even more.
Try this: before stretching, take a deep breath through your nose (not your mouth)and fill your lungs til you feel your back stretch. You will even feel pain from this in the middle of your back because most likely your tension is bac there too. So use that pain as a signal that you are filling your lungs to the right capacity. Let the air out through the nose and repeat this two more times. Try before you step into your calf stretch to relax the rest of your body while continuing to breathe in and out of your nose.
Monitor especially for tension in your shoulders. Relax as much as you can than step into the stretch while breathing.
This next part is critical. When we stretch one muscle, the tension will start to rise in another area preventing the stretched muscle from releasing. While the muscle is being stretched you must release the other parts of your body as well. Drop your shoulers and drop your hands by their sides and breathe breathe breathe. Try to calmly make yourself aware of the room. This calm focus, this awareness, will help release the mind which will in turn release the calf.
A person can eventually become adept at this technique to where it becomes second nature and a true release is almost immediate. It will take time to develop however,but it’s worth it.
Lipo, like krakkerz said, you need to watch your range of motion on the calf raises. Make sure that you are bringing your heels down past the toe board so that you are getting a good stretch during the exercise. You may have to drop some of the weight that you usually use in order to do this, but it will be worth it since you should gain flexibility.
You may also want to do some calf and ham stretches in every workout, even if you are not going to be working the calves or hams. This helped me when trying to gain some extra flexibility in my hamstrings.
I remember the day I pulled my calf muscle my hams and low back felt very tight, so it’s definitely possible that other tight muscle groups can make your calves overcompensate.
When I do seated calf raises I lower the weight to the bottom and relax my calves (pause) then explode up and hold a full contraction. Heels are defintely below the board. I work in the 20-30 rep range then drop the weight and repeat without rest for 4 drops. When I start to approach failure I adjust my foot placement (toe-in/out)This has been very productive and I like the fact that it takes less time than doing multiple sets.
Another thing to think about, if your calves are too sore post workout and you can’t get your heels down, is to train submaximally every day for 2 weeks, building up the work rate over that time. Then go back to your regular training. That might be a controversial comment, but it works a treat for getting rid of DOMS and post workout soreness and stiffness.
pnfdog, you describe a tight fascial region.
The next time you do a one-leg calf stretch, tighten the glute on the stretching side and see what happens. That’s tight fascia.
Lipo, how long do you hold the stretch? Describe the stretch(es) that you do. Get back to me as soon as you can.
Stronski. I stand on one of the horizonal supports of the calf machine with my bodyweight applied to one leg. I lock my knee, relax as completely as I can and hang there for about 30 seconds then I switch legs and repeat 3x. I repeat this after lifting as well. BTW, I do calves once every 5 days and I almost never get DOMS.
Try holding the stretch longer for one set. Somewheres in the neighbor hold of 3 minutes with the leg straight and also with the knee bent.
Stronski, Thanks for the advice. I pulled/tore my calf in late July, had to use crutches a few days, and didn’t run again till mid September. Pre-injury, I wasn’t stretching at all. As soon as the swelling went down, I began stretching all my leg and hip muscles daily, which I believe has helped alot and prevented re-injury.
So how long do you stretch? I mean it takes about 40min for me to stretch and I stretch a minute per movement. I’m just thinking if I should concentrate on less stretches with a longer time?
LL, I stretch post-workout and before going to sleep. I only hold each stretch about 10 seconds and got alot more flexible within the first 2 months of daily stretching…