Those who stretch consistently typically stretch their calves, but they often forget one very important stretch: The soleus stretch.
The two muscles of the calf are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. While other muscles do exist around the back of the lower leg and knee, these are the two that we most concerned with.
The soleus is the dominant muscle being used when pointing your foot in a bent knee position.
Why you should stretch your soleus.
So why does the soleus get tight? Well, it could be many reasons. Here are just a few possibilities:
- Runners often develop a tight soleus which is understandable because of the natural gait pattern when running.
- I suspect that some people may be flexing their calves while working at their desk keeping their heels raised. Doing this over a long period of time can greatly tighten up the soleus.
- I have found doing physical work while crouching for a long time can also cause it to tighten up.
These activities can result in a tight soleus which can then be felt as knee, ankle, or foot pain. Many people will have no idea that it is their soleus causing the issue. Of course there are thousands of reasons people have pain in the knee, lower leg, ankle, or foot. You may want to try stretching the soleus to see if it is in fact tight and possibly the cause or contributor of your pain. Think about the last activities you have been performing and if they seem similar to the ones described above, consider the possibility of a tight soleus muscle and stretch it.