I must come clean and confess that I neglect my calves. Aside from stretching them in Downward Dog, I spend little time on this overworked muscle that helps propel me forward as I run. I'm changing my ways, and have added calf raises to my strength training routine. The calf may be small in comparison to the larger muscles in the thighs, but this muscle still needs to be worked in multiple directions. This is why I have started doing my raises in three different positions to really strengthen all the fibers of the muscle.
To see the three variations I've been doing, just read more.
- Parallel: Begin by standing with your feet directly under the hip joint. Your feet should really only be about four to five inches apart. Lift your heels up in a controlled motion, taking two counts to get to the top of the motion. No popping up. And lower down in two counts.
- First Position: Stand with your heels together and your toes apart with your feet making a V. Don't crank at your ankles to make this shape with your feet, but roll your thigh bones away from each other at the hip joint. Raise and lower your heels in this position. This position will work the outer calf a bit more.
- Pigeon Toed: Start in a parallel foot position and flare your heels away from one another so you are pigeon-toed. This motion should also happen at the hip joint. This position will work the inner calf more, and is important to do if you overpronate (your feet and ankles tend to collapse your arch).
Do 12 to 15 reps in each foot position. Holding dumbbells will increase the work on your calves; start with five-pound weights and increase the amount as needed. This move challenges your balance too. If you feel wobbly as you raise your heels, put one or both hands on a wall for assistance.