The outside calf muscle is known as the lateral head of the gastrocnemius, which is a two-headed muscle group. The other head is known as the medial head of the gastrocnemius. The two muscles act together to plantarflex, or extend, the ankle. Thus, anytime you perform this movement, both muscles are worked. Also, anytime you perform a stretch for the gastrocnemius, which requires you to dorsiflex, or flex, your ankle, both heads are also stretched. In other words, you cannot stretch only one head at a time. You can, however, emphasize the stretch on one head. To emphasize the medial head, point your toes outward during the stretch. To emphasize the lateral head, point your toes inwards during the stretch.
Standing Wall Calf Stretch
Stand facing towards the wall with your body upright.
Position your right foot on the wall at a slight angle, keeping your right heel on the floor, and turn your right foot a bit so your toes are pointing inwards to emphasize the lateral head of the gastrocnemius.
Put your left hand on the wall for support.
Lean your right hip and right leg forward until you feel a stretch in your right gastrocnemius.
Maintain the stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds, repeat the stretch your left foot, and then take a 30 to 45 second rest period before moving on to the next set of the stretch with your right foot.
Seated Towel Calf Stretch
Hold the ends of a towel with each hand and sit on the floor with your torso upright.
Bend your left leg, putting your left foot down on the floor, and extend your right leg, putting your right ankle down on the floor.
Position the middle of the towel over the top part of your right sole and turn your right foot slightly so your toes are pointing inwards to emphasize the gastrocnemius lateral head.
Pull the towel to move your right foot slightly back until you feel a stretch in your right gastrocnemius.
Maintain the stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds, repeat the stretch with your left foot, and then take a 30 to 45 seconds break before doing the next set of the stretch with your right foot.
- If you do not have a towel with you, then do the seated calf stretch by pulling your foot with your hand.