Glutes, abs, quads, biceps… but what about calf muscles? For us women, they’re often ignored or forgotten. No-one ever says, ‘her calves are amazing!’ do they? But strengthening these lower leg muscles might actually be more crucial than you think.
The calves are the biggest muscle in your lower leg, so it’s no shock that they are linked to shin health. If your calves are strong, they support the tibia. This allows your calfs to be more resistant to pressure and more flexible – just what you need for running. To help your shins through calf strengthening, try doing calf raises. Do as many as you can every day and you will hopefully start to notice the difference in 1-2 weeks.
Long legs are down to genetics, no doubt about it. But you help your legs appear longer by working your calves. This is because when your lower leg is toned, you avoid that bunched up look in your calves and also eliminate some of the fat which gathers there. This makes your whole leg look longer without even wearing heels!
How to work them
I’d love to say that there are a hundred different exercises you could do to strengthen your calves. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Calf raises are possibly the only exercise to isolate the muscle. That’s not to say you can’t do sports that work your calves, because running is one of those, but if you’re in the gym, calf raises will be your go-to. Spice them up with single leg calf raises, add weights, do them on resistance machines or do them in a squat position. Finding different variations of the calf raise will add some fun to your workout while getting those lower legs burning.
Stretching your calves
So we’ve figured that working on your calves is beneficial to your health and you figure, but don’t ignore stretching them. Just like having strong calves will help you avoid shin splints, so will stretching them. If your Claves are more supple, they’ll be able to take more pressure when you run and adapt to the terrain, too. In terms of your figure, stretching your muscles will make them appear longer – i.e. your legs will look longer!
Yes, you should work on your calves. But you should also take the time to stretch them for maximum benefit. Mix it up with different exercises to second guess your body and keep it working to the full!