Toes and Calf Stretch:
The feet and calves are important areas to be sure not to forget while performing your stretching and mobility drills. Though they may seem like minute area that may not deserve the attention, they can actually cause some serious issues if left neglected. And, if mobilized properly, can lead to great increases in mobility throughout the lower half of the body while decreasing pain during daily duties and exercise.
What leads to tight and immobile toes and calves. Let’s start with foot wear, ladies especially. Common, trendy footwear can be very tight around the toes and even cause shifting of the toes that can eventually lead to deformity. Not to mention, the majority of footwear provides so much support that the muscles of the feet, toes, and arches have to provide little contribution to gait. So, my first recommendation would be that we all try our best to perform some types of barefoot training whenever possible. And, if not possible, extra time should be spent performing foot, ankle and calf stretching, strengthening and mobility drills.
To perform the stretches seen in the video, we are going to start by removing our shoes and socks. Then intertwine your sock between all of your toes to provide and nice spread. Next, use pressure against the floor to move the toes into extension. Perform repetitions of this drill. After that, I like to perform the standing calf stretch shown in the video to add mobility to the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf. To do so, press the heel firmly to the floor, and begin leaning forward until a comfortable stretch has been reached. At this point you can either passively hold the stretch for 45-60 seconds, or provide some active muscle contraction in the calf and do repetitions of contraction followed by stretch.
Why you should work on calf, ankle, and feet/toe mobility:
- Immobility can lead to pain in the knees, ankles, hips and lower back
- Immobility can lead to lack of the ability to perform exercises with the correct form
- Improved balance through proper muscular activation of the feet
- Esthetics, you can avoid common toe deformities caused by stiff, tight and rigid footwear