First, go take your marker of flexibility by squatting down with an empty bar on your back. Once you reach the bottom position, pay attention to your body mechanics by assessing the angle of your shin in relation to the floor.. Then proceed to stretch your calves maximally. The standard static calf stretches won’t just cut it. You will need the extra resistance provided by weight machines. The best way to stretch your calves is to use two calf machines: typically the standing one and the seated one. First get under the pads of the standing calf raise machine, lock your knees and lower your heels as low as possible while keeping your knees locked. This will insure that both soleus and the gastrocnemius are fully stretched. If you unlock the knees, the gastrocnemius will not have a full stretch. Hold the stretch for a full 15 seconds. count. Bend you knee to lower the shoulder pads and take a five second break during which you increase the weight by 2-3 plates. Repeat the stretch-rest-add weight process for another 3-5 reps. Then proceed to the seated calf raise machine to give your soleus muscles a greater stretch. Use the same training methodology for the stretching: holding the stretch for 15 seconds, resting 5 seconds, adding weight etc...for a total of 5-6 reps. By this time, your calves should have achieved their maximum length for the day. Then go back to the squatting rack and test your marker again. If your knees are moving farther then before your stretching routine, then your calves were certainly limiting your range of motion. In any case, looser calves will allow you squat with a more upright trunk posture, thus reducing the stress levels on your knees and lower back.
Copyright ©2011 Charles Poliquin