Avoid a Calf-tastrophe

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On Wednesday, I wrote about how lack of strength and suppleness in my gastrocnemius landed me straight onto the couch with an injury and off the running track. Once I was able to run again without any discomfort, which was a about a week post-injury, I began following a program to give my calves the attention they deserved.

Along with rolling out my feet and gastrocnemius with my YTU therapy balls, I also included the following exercises every day prior to the race-day: 

Yoga Tune Up® calf stretch

Calf Raises:

Sitting Seza

As a bonus: these corrective gastrocnemius exercises also help keep shin splints – another concern runners have to deal with – at bay. Three weeks later, after running my half marathon, I am happy to report that apart from some tightness in the backs of my legs, my calves functioned the way they were supposed to and I finished the race pain-free.

Try it out and see how the routine feels in your body. Including these corrective exercises in your self-care kit will go a long way to helping you cross the finish line with aplomb!


Enjoyed this article? Read YTU Rolling for Runners

Emilie Mikulla

Having contracted a major case of wanderlust, Emilie has traveled the world, working as journalist, and now lives Dubai. After a second surgery on her spine, Emilie followed a lengthy Pilates rehabilitation program and, amazed by the results in her own body, became a comprehensively trained Pilates instructor in 2008. Emilie has taught in Thailand, South Africa, Dubai and in San Francisco. Emilie is an E-RYT and has completed her trainings with YogaWorks and Yoga Tree San Francisco, before earning her Yoga Tune Up® certification from Jill Miller. She has also spent hundreds of hours assisting her mentor Harvey Deutch PT at RedHawk Physical Therapy clinic in San Francisco, in teacher trainings, and on retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. She has also recently participated in a week-long cadaver dissection workshop with Gil Hedley of Integral Anatomy. Emilie is the Lifestyle Editor for Women's Health & Fitness Middle East where she contributes a variety of articles and columns ranging from fitness and wellness, inspirational stories and nutrition. Blending dynamic movement with therapeutic releases, Emilie’s classes will empower you to practice the activities you love with awareness and joy.

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Congrads for your half marathon 🙌🏻 I love the toe extension variation of the Calf stretching vidéo. My body is asking for it 🤩

Agata Wojno

Thank you for the videos! I will use your techniques to help myself. I run and I am always in need of a good stretch. I’ll incorporate these into my routine.


Hi Emilie! Very helpful info & videos. I especially loved the Seiza Stretch with the strap. I’m a marathon runner too & have experienced many brutal shin sprints. I’ll incorporate these into my training routine & regeneration. Thanks for sharing!


So helpful. I tore my calf muscle 3 times in a row within a few weeks, and I will keep doing now these exercises to stretch them 🙂

Katie Rutterer

Yes to calf stretches! Unfortunately, I had not yet discovered YTU when I pulled my calf while running several years ago, but because of that injury, I make sure to take care of my calves after running. I have a half dome foam “roller” that lives next to my standing desk so I can make sure to stretch my legs out several times a day.


These are great! I needed them with all the hiking I’ve been doing lately.


I’m all for a good pun, so I just had to read this “calf-tastrophe article”! Very well said regarding the lack of suppleness and strength in gastrocnemius and the relationship between running injuries, including shin splints that even non-runners can suffer from. Self-care is such an important part of training for such a high impact sport such as running. The videos definitely provided great tips and techniques for anyone to try out and include in their preventative/maintenance programs.


Calf tightness/sore-ness is another common one I get from students due to living in a ski town. YTU balls sandwiched between calf and hamstring always get reactions. I will take some of the above and work into the stretches that I do with warehouse workers each week too

Nadine Maskallis

Thank you, Emilie, for sharing your experience and including these exercises. The first two are part of my regular running prep, stretching and maintenance routine already, and I will (uncomfortable) be sure to include the third one as well.

Nadine Maskallis

Thank you, Emilie, for sharing and including these exercises. The first two have become part of my running prep, stretching and maintenance routine as well, and I will (uncomfortably) be sure to include the third one as well.


awesome stretching… thanks


Thank you for these exercises that I will incorporate in my self-care kit. I like how you have included a simple yet effective exercise that strengthens the gastrocnemius. The tendency with injured areas on the body is that we forget the need to strengthen the muscle at the same time as lengthening. It is also good to know that these corrective exercises prevent shin splints. So excited to share with my runner friends!

Genea Crum

Great calf stretching ideas! Also thanks for pointing out that these will help for shin splints. I have many students who are avid runners…….looking forward to sharing this information with them.

Paula Bishop

When I was running 6 days a week for 5-10 miles, I had horrible cramping in my calves. I ignored it and ended up with severe shin splints and plantar fasciaitis. Nothing short of giving up running seemed to help. I wish I had known all of these YTU stretches and strenghtheners back then.

Lori Palmer

I love this series of exercises to keep the calves and feet supple. It is amazing how foot mobility translates up the body, but taking care of the feet has a great restorative effect on knees and hips.

Melissa Melendres

Omg! This is like runner tip heaven….or should be!! Im a runner and recently discovered Sitting Seza! I tried it for the first time before a run yesterday and had amazing results. I have to get more attention to the gastrocnemius from time to time so thank you for tips on the two calf videos you posted.


I lead a running club at work, and several of us are doing a half marathon in a few weeks. I’ve been trying to encourage them to make sure to stretch at home after their runs, and have bene looking for a easy collection of exercises for them to work with. This couldn’t have come with better timing! Plus, one of the group is getting tension / worried about some plantar fasciitis pain, and the last video sounds like a perfect fit!

Keisha F.

I use to run track and field and suffered from shin splints for an extended period of time. My coach made it seem like it was just something runners half to live with. It makes absolute sense that to have safe runs, the calves need more attention other than “calf stretch against the wall.” This is a great article reminding us of this high neglected area! I’ve also done calf raises with a ball in between the ankle bones, this helps to avoid sickling so you get to strengthen the muscles around the ankle as well.

Emily Lunoe

Thank you for these! I’ve tried them and they are great. I’ll keep at it and hope for improved mobility!

Alisa Fairbanks

These are such simple and effective movements to increase awareness (and mobility) to the feet and ankles. And, none of them take a lot of time — we all have time to do something like this! Great follow-up to your preceding post.


I’ve ignored my calf muscles for so long I don’t realize that they’ve been screaming at me for years. The Therapy Balls quickly drew my attention to the overwhelming white noise of my calf muscles. As I used to balls to “listen” that white noise became more and more intelligible until I could accurately translate what my calves were trying to tell me. “Hey jerk! What do we gotta do to get some attention around here!”

Sonya Perry

Great information. Thank you for including the videos this makes it so much easier to take the good advice into action!

Mindy Micheli

This is such a great article! The calf muscles are not something that you immediately think of in terms of the body’s global tissue- wellness, or a vital promoter of body ease and functionality; and yet trigger points within this soft tissue have huge impact on painful conditions throughout one’s structure. Trigger points have been found to refer pain both superiorly and inferiorly, radiating pain and dysfunction into the knees and/or lower back region, as well as into the instep of the foot. The body is so amazing in its’ vast interconnectedness…thank you fasciae. Thank you Emilie, for helping us… Read more »

Ethan Hammond

I used to have chronic calf pain and shin splints for years, but using Yoga Tune Up, including the videos in this post, I very quickly cleared up a lot of the stiffness I had and became a much stronger, pain free runner. These mobilizations really work!!

Christina Broome

Hi Emilie! Great trio of stretches, strength building moves and unique toe compression/stretches. Thanks for the article!


I used to stretch my calves daily but have been slacking off. This post gives me a good reminder to get back to it as my calves have been feeling tight lately. I definitely need to incoporate the YTU balls too.


Awesome exercises! I am going to incorporate these into my routine post run!