You know its important to stretch your calves, but do you know how and why Here, learn why you should stretch before and after a workout. Plus, learn two beginner calf stretch exercises

Stretching before and after working out is very important for your health. It’s important before a workout because stretching can stimulate blood flow to muscles, helping them to perform more efficiently—but it may be even more important afterward. According to physical therapist Debbie Pitchford, “After running, stretching helps to remove lactic acid from the muscle, which in turn reduces muscle soreness.”

This helps the body to be more flexible and reduces your risk of injury—and stretching after your workout has the added benefit of helping you to relax.

Basic Calf Stretch

The basic calf stretch helps to relax the entire calf and should be done before and after your workouts, in addition to the rest of your stretching routine.

To perform this stretch, stand up straight. Face a wall, standing about 12 to 24 inches away. Put your arms on the wall in front of you and slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in your calves. Hold this position for about thirty seconds.

To get a more intense calf stretch, place your feet further from the wall while performing this exercise.

Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring muscle runs up the back of your leg from right below your knee to your buttocks. It helps you to lift your lower leg and to bend your knees. Pulling the hamstring muscle is a common and painful calf injury. Performing hamstring stretches before and after your workout can help to reduce the risk of this type of injury.

You can perform this type of stretch one of two ways. While standing up, place one foot on a chair that is about waist high. Slowly bend forward until you feel a stretch in the muscle and hold at that point. Don’t stretch further than is comfortable for you.

You can also perform this exercise while lying on your back. Keep your back flat and eyes pointed at the ceiling while stretching. Lift one leg and hold it behind your thigh with your hands. Pull the leg toward your body until you reach a 90 degree angle. As you grow more flexible over time, you can slowly move the leg closer to your chest during this exercise.

Before starting any fitness program, be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure that you’re physically able to do so safely. Never force your body to stretch beyond its limits. Stretching should feel good—not cause pain.

Finally, remember this advice from fitness and nutrition expert Wayne McGregor, “It’s much safer to under stretch than to overstretch. Always remain within the comfortable stretch zone. Never go to the point where you cannot possibly stretch any more as this could do more harm than good! If you feel any pain or discomfort at any stage of the stretch then stop the stretch immediately!”

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