THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOLEUS MUSCLE
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOLEUS IN CALF STRENGTHENING
The calf complex is commonly injured in recreational athletes. It is an area that should be fairly simple to manage, however is often very poorly rehabed.
Your calf is made up of 2 main muscles, your gastrocnemius, and your soleus.
*The gastrocnemius is your superficial (outside) muscle. It has 2 heads, both which cross the knee joint and connect to the back of your thigh. We spend a hell of a lot of time strengthening our gastrocs, but in most cases they won’t be the issue….
*The soleus is the inner muscle of your calf, and this attached to the top of the back of your shin (without crossing the knee). In calf strains, this is injured the large majority of the time.
Your calves contribute to 60% of the shock absorption in running. Of this 60%, the soleus provides a whopping 50%, and the gastrocs only 10%. The soleus is also the dominant muscle in both upward and forward propulsions (pushing off when running and jumping).
So rather than just doing a million of your standard calf raises in standing (biasing the gastrocnemius which crosses both the knee and ankle), we need to target the soleus by bending our knee.
Seated calf raises are fantastic for strengthening the soleus. Seated calf raises are super easy to do in the gym, at home or even in the office. If you can’t get to the gym and stack a plate or 2 on your knees, you can use just about anything you can get your hands on at home. Chuck some old books, a suitcase, whatever you can find around the house to add some resistance. Even just get your partner or kids to sit on your knee and pump out some raises while you’re watching TV!
Other great soleus exercises are:
-Bent knee standing raises
-Adding a theraband around your waist for standing calf raises
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM