The strong muscles of the calf can be quite tight, especially after prolonged standing or walking, and for many athletes whose sport of choice involves running or jumping. To best stretch these muscles, grab a bolster or pillow and have a seat; start with both feet extended out in front of you with the pillow under your knees so that they’re slightly bent. Flex your ankle back so that your toes are toward the ceiling. Using your hand — or a belt if you can’t reach — pull back slowly on the arch or ball of your foot until a stretch is felt in the lower calf. Hold until the stretch sensation diminishes. Remove the pillow and repeat the stretch; this time the sensation of pull may travel all the way behind the knee.
For best results, stretch one calf at a time and repeat the stretch two or three times per leg. Be patient, as the calf muscles can take a while to relax. Once the initial stretch sensation lessens, you can deepen the stretch by pulling back a little more on the ball of the foot.