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April 8, 2015


Heel Raises (calf raises)

by Amy

I tried to explain to someone the importance of this exercise and strengthening this muscle.


This will strengthen the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, the calf muscles.  These muscles, when contracted, will plantarflex the foot(point the toes).  So when you do this exercise in standing, the only way to point the toes is to lift the body and raise the heels off of the ground.  This exercise looks easy but can be quite hard.  When you do this exercise standing, you’re using small(ish) muscles to lift the weight of the entire body.  You have to work even harder if you’ve got a few extra pounds on you.  You have to work about a million times harder if you had a stroke and the connection from the brain to those muscles is all messed up.  So when you’re walking, at the end of the stance phase of gait, right before toe-off…’s a picture that shows what I’m talking about.……


So when you’re walking, at the end of the stance phase of gait, you have to lift the entire weight of the body with ONE LEG because the other leg has already swung forward.  The legs do opposite things during the gait cycle, they move forward in a reciprocal pattern.  So getting the calves strong, which is responsible for that motion, is vital for walking.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. oc1dean
    Apr 9 2015

    Are we actually supposed to create some pushoff force at the toe-off position? I’m quite sure that I have no pushoff on the affected leg and I’ll have to check on the good leg.

    • Apr 9 2015

      Yeah, there should be some force there in order to propel the leg forward.

  2. Apr 9 2015

    Now that I have some dorsiflex back doing this is much easier. But I sorely miss being able to stand on tip toes, but that will come back one day.

  3. Denise
    Apr 12 2015

    I don’t think I can do this with my AFO. I’ll have to ask my physical therapist about it. I can see value in it, though.

    • Apr 12 2015

      No, you wouldn’t be able to do it with an AFO on. You would have to start seated with the AFO off.

  4. Apr 18 2015

    I still have some weirder little gait issues that keep leading to bigger painful issues in my good side. I will have to study that diagram. I can barely move for the past couple of weeks.

    • Apr 18 2015

      Hmm, can you try to describe what’s going on?


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