Calf raises primarily target two lower-leg muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. But building calf strength improves stability up and down the kinetic chain, from the knees above to the ankles below.
As a result, calf raises are often used to prevent and rehabilitate weak ankles, knee pain, shin splints, and gait issues. Strengthening these muscles is also associated with improved athletic performance, including jumping higher, squatting heavier, sprinting faster, and achieving full extension of the knees and hips.
The key to getting the most out of calf raises is to work the full range of motion, which means performing them on a step or other elevated surface that allows the heel to drop as well as rise up.
Read on to learn more about this small but mighty move.