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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Soleus stretch


morninglorie

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I've been trying to do the exercises in The Perfect Pointe book, to get strength back in my ankles/feet (and to prevent toe curling). One of the items in the first phase are calf stretches; one for the gastrocnemius, and one for the soleus.

 

The stretch the book has you do for the soleus consists of putting one foot in front of the other (in the book, they're shown not very far apart, but Google shows me there are varying positions), and then bend both knees, keeping the hips forward. I cannot do this stretch comfortably; it bothers my bad knee (previous injury/surgery), makes my quads go crazy, and I also feel like it bothers the front of my ankles because I bend so much to try to feel a stretch. (I don't have any ankle pain on any of the other exercises, nor when I plie, and I didn't have issues when I did the "test" where put your foot near the wall and plie in parallel to test your range).

 

Are there alternative soleus stretches? I'm not sure if my positioning is wrong. I should feel the stretch, right? I'm pretty flexible, and tend to have to stretch farther than most people to feel anything (even for the gastrocnemius stretch). Usually I have to stretch my calves by standing on a step or curb and letting my heels go down a bit, or put my foot up against a wall.

 

Any tips would be appreciated. :yes: Thanks all!

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There are tons of different ways to stretch the soleus. In your google search, you should have come up with several. In general all of these stretches have the foot flexed and the knee bent. You should feel the stretch in the lower part of the calf.

 

I'm not big on stretching the soleus (slothful behavior on my part). I'll do a regular calf stretch and then just bend my knees and hold it for a while. I just did the calf stretch on a step you described and then bent my knees. I got a nice stretch of the soleus in doing that.

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I have the book too morninglorie. The stretch itself it pretty simple, and to me it never feels as intense as stretching the gastrocs, so maybe you are trying to push it too far to 'feel' more?

 

However the fact that you mention pain in the front of the ankle, knees, and quads, makes me think something else might be going on. If other muscles are weak, and you are not maintaining your alignment as you plie (knees not tracking over the toes, ankles rolling in), that could be causing your issues. The book mentions many times not pushing into pain in the front of the ankle.

 

I think I'd do this stretch carefully in front of a mirror to check myself, and if it seems you are getting a decent depth of plie in the knee bent position (without going so far as to cause your pains), then maybe you don't need to focus on stretching your soleus as it's already flexible enough for what you need it to do.

 

I know you asked about alternate soleus stretches but I think that is the most often recommended one. I imagine you could try your curb stretch with your knee bent instead of straight as well.

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There are tons of different ways to stretch the soleus. In your google search, you should have come up with several. In general all of these stretches have the foot flexed and the knee bent. You should feel the stretch in the lower part of the calf.

 

I'm not big on stretching the soleus (slothful behavior on my part). I'll do a regular calf stretch and then just bend my knees and hold it for a while. I just did the calf stretch on a step you described and then bent my knees. I got a nice stretch of the soleus in doing that.

 

Thanks Garyecht! I did see a couple other stretches during my search, but because the overwhelming majority were the one that was also in book, I was wary of the others. I only saw them in a couple places, and wasn't sure they were trustworthy. I can try some though, and see if they work. There was a yoga page that had a few listed. I decided to check here because there are so many teachers, and thought maybe some of them knew alternatives for those of us who are more flexible.

 

I'll try the curb with the knee bent, too! Thanks for testing that for me :grinning:

 

I have the book too morninglorie. The stretch itself it pretty simple, and to me it never feels as intense as stretching the gastrocs, so maybe you are trying to push it too far to 'feel' more?

 

However the fact that you mention pain in the front of the ankle, knees, and quads, makes me think something else might be going on. If other muscles are weak, and you are not maintaining your alignment as you plie (knees not tracking over the toes, ankles rolling in), that could be causing your issues. The book mentions many times not pushing into pain in the front of the ankle.

 

I think I'd do this stretch carefully in front of a mirror to check myself, and if it seems you are getting a decent depth of plie in the knee bent position (without going so far as to cause your pains), then maybe you don't need to focus on stretching your soleus as it's already flexible enough for what you need it to do....

 

I think you're right. I just tried it again with my feet wider apart, and it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable (though I still didn't feel a stretch). The ankle pain is only in the front of the ankle on the back foot, and I think it is from going too deeply (and I didn't get it with my feet wider apart). I would not be surprised in the least if it was just me and my lack of comprehension as far as the correct positioning goes. :ermm: Some days the brain does not want to cooperate!

 

Thanks all!

 

Edited for clarity.

Edited by morninglorie
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