In my earlier post I had written about the soleus muscle pain. The soleus push up is one of the recommended exercises to treat the muscle pain. He I try to provide some information on how to perform the soleus push up correctly, and in general what to do to strengthen this muscle.
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What is the Soleus Muscle?
The soleus muscle is a large muscle that extends from below the back of the knee to the heels. It is located underneath the gastrocnemius muscle (which makes up the calf). It originates from the posterior of the tibia and fibula, and inserts into the calcaneus bone via the Achilles tendon. The soleus muscle is a powerful plantar flexor of the ankle, meaning it helps to point the toes down.
It also helps to stabilize the knee and ankle joints during standing and walking. The soleus muscle is a slow-twitch muscle, which means it has a high endurance capacity. This endurance is critical for activities like walking, running, and cycling.
The soleus muscle is also a vital connection to the calf muscles.
While the soleus muscle strengthens the lower legs, the calf muscles work with the soleus in flexing the feet.
It is instrumental in helping you standing on your tip toes and also flexes the toes upward by hinging at the heels. Our running and walking mechanisms depend on feet flexion, which would not be possible without the calf muscles. Injuries to the calf and soleus muscles involve both groups.
The Soleus Pushup
- With feet flat on the floor and muscles relaxed, raise the heel while the front of the foot stays down.
- When the heel gets to the top of its range of motion, you let it fall slowly to the floor.
- You should feel a stretch in your calf muscles.
- Try to do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions per leg.
Exercises to Strengthen Calf and Soleus Muscles
Even though the seated soleus pushup provides the maximum benefit, the following other stretches help the other supporting muscles as well.
Stand about three feet from a wall and put your right foot behind you ensuring your toes are facing forward. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward with your right knee straight. Rotating the toes in and out slightly will target the medial and lateral parts of this muscle separately. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds
Wall Calf Stretch
Stand about two feet away from a wall. Place the ball of your right foot against the wall while your heel remains on the ground. Slowly and gently lean into the wall while keeping your knee straight. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds.
Downward Dog (Yoga Stretch)
Get down on all fours with your hands under your shoulders on the floor. Walk your hands forward slightly on the floor. Spread your fingers apart to allow for a broad base of support. Push your hips up toward the ceiling and tighten your abdominal muscles. Keep your heels on the ground and gently try and straighten your knees. Hold this for the appropriate time.
Calf Stretch using a foam roller
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Place the foam roller under the lower half of your lower right leg. Cross your left leg over your right. Push up with your arms and roll back and forth on the foam roll. Slowly roll yourself over the foam roll back and forth working your way up the muscle toward the knee. Do not cross over the knee. Perform this with your toes pointing inward and outward.
The soleus muscle performs a critical duty that enables us to walk, run, and cycle, and it can be easily injured by overuse or improper form. Maintaining this muscle does not involve elaborate exercises or detailed workout regimen. The exercises listed here would help strengthen and keep this muscle group in top shape, but only after a period of time of repeating these exercises. The soleus pushup can be performed anytime you are sitting down – at home watching TV, or at the office, where people wouldn’t even know you are strengthening you leg muscles!