When your knee is bent, the soleus muscle is responsible for lifting your heel, allowing the toes to point downward. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Another exercise that helps to strengthen and lengthen the soleus is a deep bodyweight squat, advises the National Exercise Trainers Association. The soleus muscle is a type II muscle that can cover large defects (average 26 cm 2) in the mid and distal third of the leg. Because the knee never extends and remains in some degree of flexion during initial contact, midstance, and toe off, the soleus becomes the more prominent player in the calf complex. Use dumbbells to increase resistance. Therefore, the gastrocnemius is more dominant during knee extended, plantarflexion. ( Log Out /  It’s that the gastrocnemius muscle crosses the knee joint, while the soleus muscle does not. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Practical Applications. You can also wrap the leg with a bandage and elevate your leg to reduce swelling. Keep your back leg straight to stretch both the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles. When completing this exercise, perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions and add additional resistance as needed. But, the walking nature allows a greater degree of challenge while absorbing force on each foot strike. The next exercise to target the soleus is the bent knee calf raise. There’s no better way to kill two birds with one stone. You can certainly load more with dumbbells or barbells, but I often like to take balance and stability out of the equation to focus on one variable. The soleus and gastroc are both prime movers in ankle plantarflexion when This muscle … By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART. With a slight change in the position of your knees, you switch the focus of calf raise exercises to your soleus — the skinnier muscle to the side of the fatter gastrocnemius. diagnosis or treatment. 1. posterior surface of the head and upper 1/3 of the shaft of the fibula; 2. middle 1/3 of the medial border of the tibia, tendinous arch between tibia and fibula. We must also address the calf/ankle with exercises where the knee is flexed. used as a substitute for professional medical advice, These can be done with both legs or one leg at a time. For example, try a seated heel raise with weights. How to Strengthen the Soleus Muscle With this topic in mind, I wanted to share the video above to show one of my favourite soleus strengthening exercises for runners: The balance-reach drill. Use dumbbells to increase resistance. Leaf Group Ltd. Try the wall stretching exercise described by the American Council on Exercise. Read more: How to Help a Strained Soleus Muscle. You can perform this exercise at home or at the office. Lisa holds a personal trainer certification through the University of Alaska Anchorage, with more than 4,000 hours of hands-on experience working with a variety of client needs, from sports teams to post-rehab populations and weight loss, in one-on-one, small group and large group settings. The narrow muscle originates behind the knee joint and extends down to the back of the heel, near the Achilles tendon. Increased distance or added hill work; 3. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Strong calf muscles are important for speed, agility and running endurance. Fun fact: It was originally named after its resemblance to the flat, sandal-shaped sole fish, whose name also comes from the Latin word, solea. But there is a deeper calf muscle called the soleus that is not lengthened when we work with these straight-legged stretches. When completing this exercise, perform 3 sets of 10-15 feet and add additional resistance as needed. Straight Knee: Straight knee primarily stretches the gastroc. Change ). I immediately liked this exercise because it allowed easy loading of the soleus in a wall sit position. ( Log Out /  In most cases, runners don‘t feel a sudden twinge – just tightening that decreases whe… Stand one arm's length away from the wall and place your palms on the wall just below shoulder height. She has a black belt in Hapkido and karate and has trained in many other arts including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Capoeira. Cool down after your workout with five to 10 minutes of walking or biking at an easy pace. , Have the client stand barefooted with the feet parallel, shoulder-width apart. The soleus is located in the superficial posterior compartment of the leg.. Hold a set of weights and rest them on your knee for added resistance. Now that we are moving through the range of motion, it’s important to reinforce a full range of ankle plantarflexion. It should not be Straight leg exercises target both the soleus and gastroc muscles. Both of these fuse into the achilles tendon and attach at the heel. The main function of the calf muscles is ankle plantarflexion however In addition to this the Gastrocnemius also acts to flex the knee when not weight bearing, and stabilizes the ankle and knee when standing. is the smaller of the two major calf muscles; the other muscle being the gastrocnemius (gastroc). Bent Knee: Bent Knee stretches target more of the soleus since the gastroc muscle is contracted. Learn how your comment data is processed. The final exercise in this series is designed for a greater degree of loading. Similar to the soleus wall sit, this is an isometric exercise where we are targeting strength/endurance without creating any motion at the ankle joint. Training for an event; 2. I hope you enjoyed these soleus strengthening recommendations. The soleus muscle is one of two muscles in your calf. Stretching can also improve flexibility and stamina. Seated calf raises only target the soleus muscle. But, they function in a slightly different way…. Find a flat wall with a clear floor area. How to stretch your soleus and gastroc muscle? Slowly lower the heel until the ankle is fully flexed. Copyright Policy The soleus muscle makes up one half of the calf, and it sits under the Gastrocnemius, which is the round, visible calf muscle. any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the muscle protein synthesis response of the soleus muscle following a standard high intensity bout of resistance exercise. Structure. How to Do the Standing Soleus Stretch Take a half step forward. Monk Walks – Monk walks can dynamically stretch the soleus of your back leg. The soleus muscle is one of two muscles in your calf. Stretching and strengthening these smaller muscle groups can alleviate most of the daily fatigue and pain. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Functional Training // Injury Rehabilitation // Running Analysis, If you look at the anatomy of the calf, you’ll easily notice there are two muscles. Maureen Malone is a writer and martial artist in Tucson, Arizona. One example of soleus exercises is heel, or calf, raises. Although the gastrocnemius looks impressive, the soleus … Begin sitting with the balls of your feet on a step in front of you. The two muscles … It also helps to control the movement of the ankle and knee as they bend. They use your body weight to strengthen and tone the gastrocnemius and soleus. Ask the person to bend the knees as far as possible, keeping the heels firmly on the floor and the back erect. (An aponeurosis is a pearly white sheet of fascia that connects between two bones, serving to be an attachment point for muscles that require a large surface area.) Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times on each leg. If you experience pain in your calf, stop exercising and consult your doctor as more serious injuries may require additional treatment such as physical therapy or surgery. While the soleus and gastrocnemius share a common distal attachment on the calcaneus (heel bone), the gastrocnemius attaches high up on the femur and the soleus attaches lower down on the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones). Values range on the normal amount of knee motion since it depends on the individual runner. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. There are several options to work your soleus using bands or weights. With further training, symptoms progress to an intense tightening in the area described above. You can perform this exercise with both legs or one leg at a time. But, we typically see approximately 15-degrees of knee flexion throughout midstance. When completing this exercise, perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions and add additional resistance as needed. In general, stretches performed with the bend knee focus on the soleus muscle, while stretches done with knee straightened focus on the gastrocnemius muscle. Terms of Use The plantaris muscle is a thin band of muscle tissue that contributes to helping bend your ankle and knee. In some animals, such as the rabbit, it is fused for much of its length with the gastrocnemius muscle.. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the Seated Soleus Stretching Exercises. The outermost muscle is called the gastrocnemius. Copyright © Calf raises are the classic calf-strengthening exercise. Begin this exercise with the ball of your foot on a step with your heel hanging over the edge. 2021 Soleus exercises include standing and seated heel raises, deep squats and calf flexion with a resistance band. The calf muscle group is mainly comprised of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which both connect to the Achilles tendon, on the back side of the lower leg. If your a running that wants to run faster, longer, or with less incidence of injury, click here to learn more about the Healthy Running Program. This exercise not only strengthens your soleus but it also works the gastrocnemius muscle and increases the range of motion in your ankle. One of the basic soleus exercises is calf raises, or standing heel raises, according to the American Council on Exercise. Then raise up onto your toes, keeping the knee straight. This is very similar to traditional calf raises but while maintaining a degree of knee flexion. The soleus wall sit is an exercise I picked up from Chris Johnson in 2018 at one his running seminars. Plus, the depth you sit in the wall sit will dictate the amount of load so it is easily modified depending on the person. Tip toe walking is another exercise taught at the same seminar. Wrap a resistance band around the balls of your fee. Keeping your core engaged, step back with one leg. By no means are traditional calf raises wrong! and Resistance bands also allow you to add additional resistance to strengthen the soleus muscle. These muscles work together to plantar flex, or point down, your toes. “Calf Flexibility: Differentiating Between the Gastrocnemius and Soleus Muscle.”, The Non-Negotiables of a Highly Effective Strength Training Program for Runners (FREE Webinar Replay), Diversify Your Calf Strengthening: Gastrocnemius vs. Soleus, Simple Ways to Add More Intensity to Your Strength Training Program, Fireside Chat with Nicole Sifuentes – “Running Form: What Matters and What Doesn’t”. When your knee for added resistance, shoulder-width apart biking at an easy pace knees to the! Your Facebook account muscles work together to plantar flex, or standing heel raises seated soleus Stretching exercises of... Knee for added resistance strengthen your calf sent - check your email addresses s performed with bent,! Soleus bears a lot of load during running, much more than the gastrocnemius! 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