If You Wear Shoes, You Need This Calf Stretch

I’ve really been looking forward to sharing today’s exercise with you!

I learned this stretch in Katy Bowman’s Restorative Exercise™ program, and it’s the most simple and effective calf stretch I’ve ever come across.

First, though, you need to know why this is so important.

When your lower legs (calves, shins, etc.) get too tight, they can’t align properly with your ankles and knees.

And because everything is connected, tight lower legs have a negative impact throughout the rest of your body, especially on your spine and pelvic floor.

Here’s the source of the trouble…

When you stand on the ground with bare feet, your heels naturally have the same elevation as the front of your feet.

But, if you wear modern shoes, your heels are likely elevated because the vast majority of regular footwear has an elevated heel.

When your heels are elevated, your lower leg muscles and soft tissue tighten up and shorten to compensate. Even the tiniest amount of heel elevation, worn on a regular basis, is all it takes to shorten your lower leg muscles.

Zero heel elevation is one of the reasons I’m a huge supporter of minimal footwear. But transitioning from regular shoes into minimalist shoes requires a process!

If you jump into minimal shoes when your body has already adapted to wearing shoes with a lifted heel (even a tiny lift), you could create other problems and pains.

Any footwear transition pain might make you think that minimal shoes are bad. (Which is totally what I think happened with the Vibram lawsuit, but that’s another post for another day). 

The exercise in today’s video is not only amazing for regaining optimal alignment for your body, it also happens to be a great step in the process toward wearing minimalist shoes.

I feel so strongly about the positive benefits of this stretch that it has become a non-negotiable part of the exercises I practice at home with my kids and in the private sessions and classes I teach in the studio.

If you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below.

See you in the studio!




Hi, I'm Sydney and I'm a Restorative Movement Specialist here at Pilates Tonic. My goal is to empower you with tools to connect and live in your body in new and better ways. I'm a passionate advocate for wellness through optimally aligned movement and I look forward to designing a customized alignment and movement program just for you! If you want to find out more, just give me a call at 423.702.5233, or email me at info@pilatestonic.com. See you in the studio!

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