The Gastrocnemius is the large ‘twin headed’ muscle on the posterior of each leg, directly below the knee, helping to stabilize the ankle and knee when standing. The tendon fibres of the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris blend together to form the calcaneus ‘achilles’ tendon. Prolonged wearing of high heels or other lifting footwear can cause a chronic shortening of these muscles.
Option 1 ~ In a walking stance, using a wall to push against and for support, ‘lock out’ the knee of the rear leg and gently force the plantar surface of the rear foot towards the floor. Consider turning the foot outwards to stretch the lateral head and turn the foot inwards to stretch the medial head.
Option 2 ~ Standing upon a step (possibly using a rail to grasp for support), place the heel of one foot over the edge of the step (the toes and ball of foot remain on the step), keeping the knee ‘locked out’, dorsiflex the ankle by lowering the heel over the edge of the step.
- Medial head – Above the medial condyle of the femur upon the posterior surface.
- Lateral head – Above the lateral condyle of the femur upon the posterior surface.
- Calcaneus via the calcaneus tendon.
- Plantar flexion of the foot. Assists in knee flexion and foot inversion.