Calf Tightness

Tightness of the calf is thought to be a causative factor in many foot and ankle conditions including metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinosis, arthritis and adult accquired flat foot.

There are two main muscle groups that make up the calf, the Soleus arises from the back of the shin bones, it therefore only crosses the ankle. The Gastrocnemius (gastrocs) actually arises above the knee and therefore is only tightened and stretched when the knee is straight. When a physiotherapist teaches you to stretch the calf with the knee straight, it is because they want you to stretch the gastrocs, which are often the tighter of the two muscles.

Clinical photograph, with the knee extended, ankle movement is restricted indicating a tight calf muscle. 


Clinical photograph, in this picture a small incision has been used to lengthen the Gastoc muscle behind the knee.

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Clinical photograph, with the knee bent, the calf muscle is relaxed and ankle bends back further, this means that the Gastroc must be the tight muscle.

Now the Gastroc muscle has been lengthened, the calf is no longer tight and the ankle can move without restriction.