The gastrocnemius muscle is the large muscle located at the back of the calf on the lower leg. This muscle is active when flexing the ankle, as you would when pointing your toes, and bending the knee, thus making it an integral muscle for walking and running.
Gastrocnemius can become chronically shortened or tight due to overuse, poor body mechanics and poor stretching habits. This can lead to painful conditions such as Achilles tendinitis, pes planus (or flat feet), plantar facciitis, and posterior compartment syndromes. Proper stretching of this muscle is especially important if you often walk or jog, or are involved in other athletics such as soccer, basketball, dance etc. Strengthening the gastrocnemius muscle is also important in preventing injury. Muscle strengthening will ensure that the muscle will be strong enough to handle increased use.
Learn How to Stretch Gastrocnemius
Jocelyn M. Van Ryn is a Registered Massage Therapist in Peterborough, Ontario and has owned and operated Peterborough Massage Therapy Clinic since 2012.