Just think how hard your calf muscles work. Here is a group of muscles about a foot long in length and several inches in diameter, lifting your body weight up over and over again. It is hard to imagine that a relatively small muscle group can do so much work!

The surface muscle is the gastrocnemius muscle, which runs from your Achilles' tendon attached to the back of your heel and up across the back of your knee. Its main job is to raise you up on your toes.

The other major muscle is called the soleus, which is beneath the gastrocnemius. It helps the gastrocnemius and is also important for posture and helping you stand erect.

There are 5,280 feet in a mile. Let us assume that when you walk, your stride is 3 feet long. This results in taking 1,760 steps with both legs or 880 steps with each leg.

Your calf muscles are lifting your entire body weight with every step. It doesn't even seem possible! Since this muscle is contracting literally hundreds of times, stretching becomes key to keeping this healthy and injury-free.

Many know how to stretch the calf muscle while leaning against the wall. When your knee is straight, you are stretching your gastrocnemius.

When your knee is flexed, you are now stretching the soleus. It is important to stretch both ways.

A better way to stretch is to use a slant board. These are designed with a 30 degree angle at the base, allowing you to stretch while standing. Contact my office on obtaining or making one.

What happens if you are not stretching? A common injury is Achilles' tendonitis. This causes pain at the back of your heel and tends to be chronic. Tight calf muscles also contribute to plantar fasciitis, which is pain on the sole of your foot. Always a key component in treating fasciitis is to keep your calf muscle stretched.

Stretching your calf helps circulation, which in turn helps prevent blood clots. You must stretch on a daily or regular basis. Once or twice a week is not enough.

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Do not bounce and do not add weight. Simply stretch with your knee locked and unlocked with both legs, for a total of 2 minutes. If tight repeat this again.

Regular calf stretching will help keep you injury-free for both knee and lower leg.

Copyright © 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.