It is true, we do not really think about stretching our calf muscles that often, compared to our hips or hamstrings. How often do you walk in to a yoga class, hearing the instructor say “we will be focusing on hips in today’s class...”
As I teach more students throughout the past 5 years, I came to realise that I should pay more attention to the calves because tight calves will eventually led to many other aspects such as accessibility to a yoga pose, body pain etc. Taking my personal experience as an example, I used to dislike the pose - Malasana (squat pose, see photo at the end).
For the longest time, I thought my tight hips was the main reason why I had a hard time trying to flatten my entire feet down on the floor or I could not stay long in it. Doing more hip opening poses did help a bit, but I also forgot to stretch my calves which is crucial in a squat form.
Aside from accessibility to yoga poses, our calves play a big role in leg movement and tightness will often lead to pain in other body parts eg. lower back pain
Often when we have lower back pain, it is true that tight hamstrings and hips do play a big part. But what if after stretching our hips and hammies out, we still feel the pain? Maybe it’s time we think about the calves in this case. For some people, they probably do not even know they have tight calves, because they do not feel ache or pain in the calves at all, yet their lower back pain could be caused by tight calves. Pretty amazing yea? There is probably an anatomical explanation behind it but I will leave it to the experts to explain it. This is why every “body” is different and we all need our own kind of yoga - there is no “one size fits all” in yoga.
If you wear heels regularly or sit at a desk for the whole day, daily calf stretches will benefit you in the long run. You do not need to have any body pain to start stretching your calves.
Here you will find an article on 5 good calf stretches which I personally do and include in my own classes. My recommended daily dose will be 2 sets of 30s for each sets. Feel free to increase the sets when you do not feel much stretch after a while.