Our calf muscles are a great team. Two muscles, gastrocnemius, and soleus, both joined to the heel via the achilles tendon. Gastrocnemius is the powerhouse – propelling us forwards with every step we take. Soleus is a postural muscle – a less flashy chap that works a just a little but for a lot of the time. Soleus is what is working most when we stand still.
Strong calf muscles help us to stay upright and walk, but they also prevent the curse of ‘cankles’. When we are on our feet a lot, particularly in hot weather, our ankles can swell. That swelling is simply fluid called ‘lymph’ that has leaked from the blood vessels in our legs and flowed down to the lowest point. This leakage is a good thing and is supposed to happen. The lymph actually washes through the tissues before being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. It only becomes a problem for us when it is slow to be reabsorbed and starts to build up. Strong calf muscles help to pump the lymph out of the tissues and back into the bloodstream – swollen ankles solved! (more…)