The following Calf strain exercises form part of our step-by-step Calf strain rehabilitation program. Created by elite-level sports physiotherapist Phil Pask it includes stretching, strengthening, activation and movement control exercises.
When can I start Calf strain exercises?
Begin once the initial acute phase has passed and pain allows. This may be a couple of days or longer depending on how bad your injury is. However, there is nothing stopping you from doing exercises which do not stress your calf muscles.
Scrunch the toes up, this can be done using a towel or picking up a pencil. This helps keep the foot muscles working and will help blood circulation.
Seated knee flexion
Simply bend and straighten your knee. This exercise helps keep your knee joint mobile whilst you are injured.
Clam in extension with band
Lie on your side with your knees bent and your hips moved further back into the extension. This targets the muscles on the outside of the hip in a slightly different way.
Isometric plantar flexion
Hold the band, then pull it against a fixed foot. Keep the foot in neutral, and resist the force from the band.
Isometric means there is no movement at the joint throughout the exercise. For eversion, turn your ankle outwards against resistance.
Seated calf raise
Rise up and down on the toes in a smooth movement.
Double leg bridge with band
Place a band around your knees to increase the tension on the outside hip muscles as you perform the exercise. Raise your hips up and hold for a couple of seconds before lowering. Bridge exercises can be done on the floor, or with feet raised.
Single Leg Perturbations
Perform perturbations by moving your leg out at different angles against the resistance band.
Crab Walk With Band
Place a resistance band around your knees and walk sideways, keeping a good athletic posture and stance.
A March Linear
Marching drill becomes more dynamic up on your toes.
Movement control exercises
Perform in a slow and controlled way. Stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent, lean forwards, and open up your arms pulling the non-supporting leg backwards to make the shape of a ‘T’.
Lunge Lean Hold
Lunge onto the forward leg and get your balance, then lean forwards over the supporting leg, lifting the back leg up into the ‘T’ position. Hold for a few seconds then bring the back leg through, knee up in front to finish.
123 Hop To Sick Linear
Perform 1 hop and stick, 2 hops to stick, and then 3 hops to stick. Hold the end position still to prove you have control of the movement and landing.
A Skip Linear
A skip drill is a progression of the marching drill. It is more dynamic and performed on your toes. Knee lift is more dynamic and contact time on the ground is reduced.
A Skips Lateral
The Skipping drill is a progression of the sideways marching drill. Keep up on your toes, more dynamic.
Figure Of 8
Run in a figure of 8 patterns around the cones.
Program author: Phil Pask
Phil is one of the World’s most experienced Sports Physiotherapists. He has been England Senior Rugby Team Physiotherapist since 1997, continuing his role in recent years as Consultant Physio to the team. He was a player, physio, and head of performance at Northampton Saints from 1986 – 2002.