If you find that you regularly suffer with calf pain, knee injury, or overall discomfort throughout your legs, then the chances are that the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your lower body aren't strong enough to support you properly through your daily activities.
A lot of people experience calf pain when they're running, which is one of the reasons why many professional athletes use calf compression sleeves to support their muscles and promote quick recovery. However, discomfort can occur for a variety of reasons, from regular running, to excess strain on your bones and joints. The following exercises will help you to build stronger calves, so that you experience fewer injuries, better performance, and increased stability.
1. Single-Leg Calf Raise
The best way to build stronger calves is with exercises that focus directly on working the gastrocnemius muscle, and the soleus muscle. A good place to start - particularly if you're a beginner - is with a single-leg calf raise. Stand on one leg, preferably near a sturdy surface or wall for balance, and bend your other leg up behind you. Make sure that your knee, ankle, and hip are all aligned to properly protect the joints.
Push onto the ball of your foot to raise the weight of your body upwards, tensing your abdominal muscles so that you don't lean forwards or backwards. Hold the position for as long as you can, feeling the stretch in your calf muscles.
2. Double-Leg Calf Raise
If workouts to build stronger calves start with a single-leg calf raise, a double-leg calf raise should help to upgrade your results. This calf raise will use your body weight to tone and strengthen the soleus and gastrocnemius. To begin, stand near a wall or sturdy surface, and move your feet about hip-width apart. Make sure that your knees, ankles, and hips are aligned, and press down into the balls of your feet so you raise your entire body upwards.
Stand on your tiptoes for as long as possible, keeping your core tight to ensure that you stay standing straight, rather than wobbling around the room.
3. Seated Calf Raise
Finally, a seated calf raise is an ideal way to work your calf muscles regardless of whether you're at home, at the gym, or in your work office. To begin, sit on a reliable chair, placing your feet flat against the floor. Carefully align your knees over your feet, and don't allow them to turn outwards or inwards as you lean forwards, placing your hands on your thighs to increase the stretch.
At the gym, you can use a calf press machine with the balls of your feet on the platform, helping you to add extra weight to your workout.
Build Stronger Calves with Sport
If the above exercises alone aren't enough, you can always take part in various exercises that are ideal for strengthening your calf muscles. Walking is a great way to strengthen your muscles, particularly when you're going uphill - just make sure you have your calf and knee compression sleeves handy. Alternatively, swimming can provide a great way to build stronger calves without placing any additional strain on your joints. Swimming not only works the calves, but also helps to exercise the rest of your leg muscles, as well as various other parts of your body.