Time to stretch out those calves? How about the shin splints? Well read on I have 9 yoga stretches to help eleviate tension in your calves and shins.
The Anatomy Of The Lower Leg
The lower leg consists of the segment between the knee and the ankle. It’s not the easiest place to stretch and can be very tight on runners. The lower leg has four main deep muscles that affect your flexibility behind the shin bone:
- Flexor & Extensor hallucis longus
- Flexor digitorum longus
- Tibialis anterior
The other three superficial muscles are the ones we want to focus on for relief in the calves:
I am the type of girl who likes to break up the myofascial before beginning my stretching routine. You may be wondering what the hell that is, so I will briefly go into it.
Fascia meaning band or bandage in Latin is exactly that. Fascia can be thick or thin. It is a connective tissue that provides a framework for muscles to bind too.
If you have noticed that parts of your body are tight and it is restricting your range of movement as well as creating other problems the chances are that your myofascial is tight as well as the surrounding muscle groups.
There are several ways that we can gain a myofascial release. One of them is stretching. I use the method of applying force to the area in order for the fascia to release.
As we continue to break up the fascia, we can gain a deeper and more effective stretching session on the body.
Flexibility Tools Needed For The Sequence
- Yoga mat or towel
- Foam roller
- Hard small ball (cricket ball will do)
- Yoga block
Let’s Begin The 9 Yoga Stretches For Tight Calfs & Shins
1. Seated Static Hold
This is one of our first and more gentle ways to begin a myofascial release.
In a seated position as below gently place a rolled yoga mat, towel or blanket between your hamstrings and calves. Try to find a point in your calves that are tight or that are holding more tension than other areas.
2. Seated Roller
Bring your sit bones to the ground and place the foam roller underneath the knee. Slowly begin to roll down and find added spots of tension. When you do keep the foam roller in place. Apply adequate pressure if it’s painful back off a little. Let the muscle stay in this position for at least two minutes. Continue to roll until you find another spot to release.
3. Flossing The Calves
If the foam roller was not enough pressure, congratulations you have made it to the hardball progression. I’m not going to lie this is not for the faint-hearted. Although this is one of my favorite calf stretches, it’s bittersweet so to say. Once again place the ball at the top of the calves and move the ball until you have a point of tension. Sit in that spot while pointing and flexing your toes for a minimum of two minutes.
4. Downward Dog
Downward dog is a beginner yoga pose that stretches the calves. Anyone can achieve this pose.
Folding forward with the wrists are parallel to the front of the mat. Hands are shoulder-width apart. Index, thumb and the mound of the index and thumb engage firmly into the earth. Feel your forearms rolling inwards and your biceps rolling outwards. Broaden across the back of the heart and turn your armpits inwards towards each other. Forearms magnetize inwards towards each other. Gaze is at the tip of the nose or you can close your eyes. The thighs are actively drawing back. Breathe long smooth unbroken breaths in the belly.
5. One-Legged Dog
From a downward dog bring one leg high into the sky. Try and get a deeper stretch through the calve on the grounded foot.
6. Achilles tendon and posterior stretch
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Flex one leg and slide the foot towards the buttocks. Raise the opposite leg and towards your face and hold the leg behind the knee. Flex the foot and hold then point the foot and hold. Repeat. If you want to get a little deeper you can use a strap to apply more force by placing it along the balls of the feet and drawing the strap closer to you.
7. Wall stretch
Standing close to the wall place your toes on the wall and lean your body in closer to the wall. If you need a deeper stretch simply bring your foot into deeper dorsiflexion using the wall for assistance.
To spice it up you can press your foot into the wall to create more force for three seconds and then relax for 10. Repeat for at least five rounds.
8. Heel Off Ground Stretch
For this pose, you will want to use your block or a stair. Ensure that you have a wall or bar to hold onto to stabilize your balance. In a standing position bring the foot on the block so that the balls of the feet and toes are on the block. The heels are off the block. Drive the heels down into dorsiflexion to enhance the stretch.
9. Double Kneeling Shin Stretch
With the shins on the floor sit back so that your heels and sit bones are connected, knees are bent. Bring your hands to either side of the quadriceps. Engage the arms and raise the knees.
To take it deeper resist the top of your foot into the floor for three seconds and relax for ten. Repeat for at least five rounds.
Yoga Stretches For Calves Program
How did that feel? Were you able to loosen up those calves and shins with my recommended yoga stretches?
Have more recommendations? Share them in the comments below so that we can all benefit!
In happiness and health,
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