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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nelson

The forgotten muscles of the calf....

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Whilst the gastrocs and soleus are the workhorses of the calf, it’s important not to neglect the other muscles of the lower leg!

Flexor hallucis longus, Flexor digitorum longus, Tibialis posterior, Peroneus longus and Peroneus brevis together contribute a sizable 20-30% of force absorption during ground contact in running!

How do we test the strength of these smaller muscles?

We use a number of tests on our AxIT system including:

  • Resisted inversion for tibialis posterior

  • Resisted eversion for the peroneals

  • Toe flexion for flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum longus

How to strengthen these muscles?

There are many options that can be used, varying from simple theraband exercises to standing weight-bearing exercises. Here are some examples that we use:

  • Banded inversion and eversion

  • Toe flexor exercises: resisted big toe flexion, foot crawls

  • Calf raise splits

  • Calf raises with internal and external rotation

  • Calf raises on Foot Pro

  • Ankle circles (frontal plane side to side, transverse plane rotations)


  • Anderson, F.C., Pandy, M.G., 2003. Individual muscle contributions to support in normal walking. Gait Posture 17 (2), 159–169

  • Hamner, S. R., et al. (2010). "Muscle contributions to propulsion and support during running." J Biomech 43(14): 2709-2716.

  • Mann, R.A., Moran, G.T., Dougherty, S.E., 1986. Comparative electromyography of the lower extremity in jogging, running, and sprinting. Am. J. Sports Med. 14 (6), 501–510

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