There are two muscles that make up the muscle group in the lower leg.
Together, they are called the calf muscles and make up the calf muscle group.
There are 2 muscles in this group:
- Gastrocnemius, which contains of two heads the medial (inner) and the lateral (outer).
The calf muscles are very important as it covers more than one joint in the lower leg. The Gastrocnemius muscle originates from behind the knee on the femur, crossing 2 joints and attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone, or heel) via the Achilles tendon.
The function of the Calf muscles is to plantar flex the ankle joint (raise the heel), which is mainly performed when running, walking and during other activities as well. While plantar flexing, the calf muscles provide the main forward propulsive force in running and walking by using the foot as a lever and raising the heel off the ground. The calf muscles also assist in knee extension and flexion. (bending and flexing the knee).
Importance of stretching the Calf muscles:
Tightness in the calf muscles can result from increased tension from active and passive processes, which will limit ankle range of motion needed for neutral foot contact on the ground. If the calf muscles are tight and inflexible, which are important for normal functions of walking and running, then extra pressure and strain is applied on the muscles and joints above and below the calf in order to produce the same motion needed. This can lead to pain and aches in those structures due to the increased tension. (Plantar fasciitis is often caused by tight calf muscles.) Furthermore, calf muscle stretches are commonly prescribed to increase ankle range of motion and to reduce the symptoms.
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