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A few weeks back I strained my soleus and have gradually started building up my exercise levels again.

I have noticed after a few days back on full exercise that the muscles in my lower leg (calf and particularly soleus) are pulled very tight which I think puts me at risk of reinjury again.

I did quite a few stretches before riding to work this morning, but I'm still worried about further injury.

What sort of exercises should I be doing pre and post exercise to 'loosen-up' or reduce risk of injury in this area.

I do a lot of sport that puts pressure on this area (cycling, soccer and running). I also think the injury happened last time doing squats (without weights) when my calf muscles were already super tight.

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2 Answers

I prefer the standing Gastroc and Soleus Stretches. Both stretches have you standing facing a wall in essentially the same position, with the only difference being the soleus stretch has the back leg bent whereas the gastroc stretch has the back leg straight.

For each stretch I recommend doing two or three reps of 30 seconds for each leg (2x30sec for left, 2x30sec for right).

If you were looking for something more intense I recommend a standing unilateral heel raise; it is essentially a calf / heel raise while you balance on one foot (you will definitely feel it in your calves). I'd do one or two sets per leg at 25 reps each.

Soleus Stretch

Gastroc Stretch

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I am doing a fitness and nutrition course and at the same time teaching myself on massage therapy. The problem you are describing sounds like you are producing too much lactic acid which causes pain in the calf and soleus. Try taking a bath now and then and massage those areas as much as you can or go to a massage palor and get it done. This helps release the acid out of your system and speeds up recovery. Dont strain yourself on the bike.Eat less salt and drink about half your weights worth of water, the water should flush out the lactic acid through urine.

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