In this post I’m going to show you how to use the tennis ball to mobilize the calf muscles including the gastroc, soleus, and their common insertion at the top of the achilles. The goal with this mobilization is to anchor one end of the muscle down and then actively stretch out the rest of the muscle against it. You can read more about the why and how of these mobilization techniques here.
1) Go back and read the massage post specifically on the hand itself to review the body landmarks and muscles in this region. In this post we will be focusing on the gastroc and soleus muscles, as well as, where they join together to form the achilles tendon. For full details on how to find and differentiate between the two muscles, click the link above.
2) To perform these mobilizations, you’re going to need a tennis ball and some floor space. The basic idea is to apply pressure with the tennis ball by positioning the ball and then using the other leg to add weight. Start with your toes and ankle pointed down, apply pressure, and then try to pull your toes and ankle back up towards you. Remember, only go as far as you can comfortably. You’re not trying to force the movement and you may not be able to move very far at first. If this is too much or the spot is too tender ease up on the pressure or move to a different spot. The picture below has yellow x’s to show you possible spots to work on. See the video below for full details and demonstration of the mobilizations.
3) Repeat for 10 reps.
4) Same warm up rules apply. Try to do this either following a workout or warm up the area with the foam roller first. Especially if you’re coming back from an injury or this is a problem area.