You'll find calf raises in the workout programs of everyone from bodybuilders to runners, footballers to gymnasts. They are also used extensively in rehab.
Calf raises are quite simply the number one way to build up the muscles in the rear of the lower leg - essential if you are recover fully from an ankle injury and avoid further injuries.
One of the great things about this exercise is that it requires no equipment beyond a step, and can thus be easily done at home.
When using calf raise for rehab, you will typically start with two legs, allowing you to share the loading with the 'good' leg. Once this is comfortable, you can progress to performing them one leg at a time, taking care when loading the injured leg.
Perform them as follows:
- Start with the front of the feet on a step or stair, the heels off the stair.
- Slowly lower the heels until they can go no further, then using the muscles at the rear of the lower leg (the calf muscles), raise the heels as high as possible.
- Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back down.
The key to this exercise is the eccentric component, the lowering phase, which should be done slowly.
Regularly performing three sets of ten repetitions will soon improve strength to this area.