The calf muscle group is one of the main muscle groups that is considered important for focused training in the world of bodybuilding. The chest (pectorals), buttocks (gluteals), and calf, consisting of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles and the lesser known plantaris muscle, are the areas of the body most commonly to receive implants to enhance cosmetics.
More importantly, the calf muscles play an important role in:
- Walking, jogging, and running by performing the vital movement of plantarflexion (push off or pre-swing) needed to propel the leg and body forward as part of the gait and running patterns, or to propel the body upwards when jumping or walking up stairs
- Through proprioceptive activity, the calf muscle group, along with other muscles groups that cross and act on the ankle or subtalar joints, is important in maintaining balance by contracting if the body starts to lean forward which applies a superior and posterior force to the body to keep it upright
- Because its origin point is above the knee, the gastrocnemius assists the hamstrings in performing knee flexion when in the prone position, especially if you dorsiflex the ankle, placing the gastrocnemius on stretch to maximize the actin-myosin cross bridge formation for increased force production
It is also important to note that a landmark study looking at the relationship between calf circumference and the presence and degree of carotid plaques showed “an inverse relationship between carotid plaques and calf circumference (CC), suggesting a possible antiatherogenic effect of large CC.” ( https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18703804/)
What Unique Feature of the BOB – The Incredible Calf Master Helps in Developing Strong and Flexible Calf Muscles
Strong and flexible calf muscles, whether for enhanced athletic performance, proper ankle and foot posture and alignment, cosmetically pleasing appearance, therapeutic rehabilitation, or reduction in carotid plaque development, can all be achieved by the consistent use of the Bob Incredible Calf Master. These are made possible because of the various features of the BOB which effectively challenge the calf muscles and other connective and support tissues to become stronger, more flexible, more proprioceptor sensitive, and prepared to handle the stresses and strains of performance.
A Scalene Triangle
A scalene triangle is one in which all angles are unequal, and as such all side length are also unequal, or of different lengths. Specific to the BOB this configuration provides pivot points that allows the user to move through a full range of motion in sagittal plane for both dorsiflexion and plantarflexion.
Using the BOB to Strengthen, Enlarge, and Define Calf Muscles
The two primary muscles that comprise the calf are the gastrocnemius and the soleus. While both cross the ankle joint to perform plantarflexion, the gastrocnemius also crosses the knee joint posteriorly and can help in performing knee flexion.
Gastrocnemius and Soleus
To “isolate” (to the degree possible) these individual muscles in order to more fully focus on their respective individual development it is necessary to put “slack”, or what is technically called “shortened active insufficiency”, in the gastrocnemius muscle when trying to focus on the soleus muscle, and when trying to focus on the gastrocnemius muscle, place the gastrocnemius in slight stretch.
Strengthening the Gastrocnemius
Because the gastrocnemius crosses both the knee and ankle joints, it is necessary to keep the knee extended when performing heel raises in order to isolate and focus on strengthening the gastrocnemius.
Increase the resistance with dumbbells or a barbell with weight.
Be sure to work through a full range of motion as you move from dorsiflexion to plantarflexion, and vice versa.
Strengthening the Soleus
Because the soleus only crosses the ankle joint it only preforms plantarflexion at the ankle. Therefore, placing the knees in a flexed or bent position places “slack” in the gastrocnemius muscle, effectively limiting its contribution to the movement, thus focusing on the soleus to perform the movement of plantarflexion.
Another way to focus on the soleus and increase the amount of resistance is to perform seated ankle plantarflexion with a barbell and weights placed on the knees.
Using the BOB to Stretch the Calf Muscles in the Development of Flexibility and Good Ankle Range of Motion
In stretching the calf muscles, it is again important to “isolate” (to the degree possible) these individual muscles in order to more precisely focus the stretching to each individual muscle.
Stretching the Gastrocnemius
Because the gastrocnemius crosses both the knee and ankle joints, placing the knee in full extension and the ankle in full dorsiflexion will best stretch the gastrocnemius as the distance from muscle origin to muscle insertion is maximized.
Procedure: In the standing position with both feet placed on the BOB, lean forward while keeping the knees extended. You should feel a good stretch in the belly of the gastrocnemius muscle near the upper part of the posterior lower leg.
Stretching the Soleus
Because the soleus only crosses the ankle joint, placing the gastrocnemius in a “slack” position will focus the stretch on the soleus.
Procedure: While in the same standing position on the BOB, bend the knees and lean forward to stretch the soleus muscles, which should be felt near the lower part of the posterior lower leg.
The focus of this article was strictly on using the BOB for strengthening and stretching of the calf muscles to enhance physical performance and improve cosmetic appearance. However, the BOB – Incredible Calf Master provides a very effective therapeutic device to effectively treat plantar fasciitis and rehabilitate sprained ankles. Check out our other articles that address these topics.