Wednesday 19 September 2018

Bent knee calf stretch

The bent knee calf stretch, or standing soleus stretch, is a simple variation of the straight leg calf stretch that targets the smaller but equally important soleus muscles that make up the calves along with the larger gastrocnemius.

Maintaining and improving soleus flexibility is vitally important in helping us maintain and improve our posture and movement especially when running and when performing major exercises such as the deadlift or squats, which require full ankle dorsiflexion (shin moves towards foot) to perform correctly.

Another important aspect involved in all of this is the Achilles tendon, which is also stretched by the bent knee calf stretch.

Primary muscle targeted

The picture below shows the primary muscle targeted by the bent knee calf stretch:

Soleus calf muscle and Achilles tendon

How to perform

This stretch can be performed either standing unaided or if you need support by placing your hands against an object such as a wall or chair.

  • Stand with one foot about half a meter or more in front of you.
  • Ensure both feet are flat on the ground and pointing forward.
  • Place hands on hips (or against support).
  • Bend your rear knee and move your hips downwards until you feel a stretch. This can be done with your front leg kept straight, or for a deeper stretch, with your front knee also bent.
  • Ensure you keep your heels in contact with the ground at all times.
  • Hold for desired length of time. To maintain current length: about 10-15 seconds; to elongate the muscle about 30+ seconds.
  • To increase stretch simply increase the bend in your rear leg.
Bent knee / standing soleus stretch
A bent leg calf stretch. Picture borrowed from Posture Direct.


Only go as far as you find comfortable when feeling the stretch. Over-stretching the muscle can cause injury and pain is a pretty good indicator that you are stretching to much to quick.

Lyle Richardson,
Gym Pal - Your Friend In Fitness


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