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Published 2024.05.17
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Rehab Science

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The primary ankle plantarflexors or calf muscles include the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles and contribute to both ankle and knee movement. Other smaller plantarflexors include: plantaris, flexor hallucis longus, flexor digitorum longus, tibialis posterior, peroneus brevis & peroneus longus.

Exercises that train the plantarflexors can help to reduce the likelihood of suffering a foot/ankle injury, such as achilles tendon tears, ankle sprains & plantar fasciopathy. Calf strengthening can also help protect joints and other tissues farther up the kinetic chain.

If calf strengthening is not a regular component of your resistance training program, then be sure to add the exercise shown in the video and aim for 3 sets of 8-12 slow, controlled repetitions 2-3/week.

If you want to test your calf strength first, here are the maximum number repetitions you should be able to do in one set by age group:

20-29yrs: Males 37, Females 30
30-39yrs: Males 32, Females 27
40-49yrs: Males 28, Females 24
50-59yrs: Males 23, Females 21
60-69yrs: Males 19, Females, 19
70-79yrs: Males 14, Females 16
80-89yrs: Males 10, Females 13

Reference: Hébert-Losier K, et al. Updated reliability and normative values for the standing heel-rise test in healthy adults. Physiotherapy. 2017.