The Best Calf-Stretching Devices in 2018

A person stretching their calves while running up some stairs.

When we think of muscles in our bodies, the calves are often way down the list. The calf muscle is one of the most overused and important muscle in our bodies. Nobody ever says “Check out the calves on that Jon Snow!” but maybe they should.

Our calves give us that extra push when climbing stairs or a steep hill. But more than that, calves are important in every step we make and can also look really good when they’re in shape. Stretching your calves will decrease the risk of tearing muscles and can help with the recovery from much foot or knee pain.

If you’ve ever suffered with nighttime pain in your legs, research has shown that an improved calf stretch can prevent those nocturnal cramps. Whether you wear heels, run regularly or do both, stretching your calves should be part of your daily routine, as tighter, shortened calves can lead to injury. While there are many stretches you can perform unassisted, we’ve looked at some of the best calf-stretching devices on the market to help ease away any tensions in your lower body.

Product
Details
Our Rating
Our #1 Rated
Calf-Stretching Device

One Stretch

Calf-Stretching Device

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

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  • Injection-molded plastic step/slant board designed by medical professionals for rehabilitation of the calves and ankles.
  • Curved upper surface offers varying level of intensity of stretches.
  • Easy to use with back against the wall design offering extra support and safety.

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #1 Rated

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category


Our #2 Rated
Calf Stretcher and Foot Rocker

ProStretch

Calf Stretcher and Foot Rocker

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

Click for price

  • The Original foot rocker and calf stretcher—medically proven to provide a deeper and more effective stretch.
  • Used by sport therapists for over 20 years to treat common lower leg ailments including plantar fasciitis/tight calves or hamstrings and heel pain.
  • Slip resistant bottom with advanced rubber strips for safety.

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #2 Rated

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category


Our #3 Rated
Wooden Slant Board

Liberty Imports

Wooden Slant Board

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

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  • Stylish professional wooden slant board with anti-slip treads.
  • Five positions can be altered to 15/20/25/30/35-degree inclines.
  • Fully assembled with exercise guide included.

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #3 Rated

4.5 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category


Our #4 Rated
Stretch-Out Strap

OPTP

Stretch-Out Strap

4 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

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  • The Original stretching strap first sold in 1993.
  • Woven nylon strap for added durability with 10 individual loops.
  • Includes instructional exercise book.

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #4 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category


Our #5 Rated
Foam Compact Stretch Wedge

Sport Safely

Foam Compact Stretch Wedge

4 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

Click for price

  • Pair of dense foam wedges that can be stacked for greater incline.
  • Each wedge is an angle at 14.5 degrees and is 2.5 inches tall at highest point.
  • Lightweight and compact—can also be used on a desk or table top for hand and wrist exercises.

HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #5 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Calf-Stretching Devices category

Why Is It Important to Stretch Your Calf Muscles?

Your calf comprises two muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus which meet at the Achilles tendon and attach to your heel. Any movement of your leg or foot uses these muscles. The gastrocnemius muscle is responsible for lifting your heel while you‘re standing with knees straight. While the soleus muscle lifts your heel as your knee is bent.

When they contract, these muscles allow you to plant on the balls of your feet. As your feet land when you run or walk the calf muscles need to stretch to allow for your foot to flatten and your shin to come forward. If calf muscles are too tight, you’ll constantly walk on the balls of your feet which impairs your ability to move or walk normally.

Calf muscles which are excessively tight can increase the risk of tearing a muscle, especially the Achilles tendon tears, and are weaker. Stretching your calf muscles will improve your range of motion, decrease the risk of tears or sprains and enable the muscles to exert proper levels of force. The following YouTube video looks in more detail at the anatomy of your calf muscles.

What Are the Symptoms of Tight Calf Muscles?

The symptoms of tight calf muscles will depend on the cause. Pain in the calf is often a result of overuse and is common in people who lead more active lifestyles or enjoy sports like running or cycling. Marathon runners, triathletes or older individuals who partake in physical sports are more prone to developing tight calf muscles or muscle cramps.

Cramped muscles can range from slightly uncomfortable to a severe pain. Your muscles may be hard to the touch, twitch under the skin and can lead to more serious injuries or tears. The effects can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes or maybe longer and are normally noticed straight after exercise.

Stretching your calves is an important step in relieving any foot or heel pain including painful conditions including:

  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Achilles tendonitis.
  • Over-pronated feet.
  • Recurring bunions.
  • Shin splint.

More flexibility of your calf muscles will also improve your sporting and athletic performance. Healthy, flexible calf muscles will help to prevent injuries by stabilizing your ankle as you run and jump. You’re less likely to suffer from a sprained ankle or strained Achilles tendon with a healthy calf muscle length.

The Best Ways to Stretch Your Calf Muscles

One of the simplest ways to stretch those calves is on the stairs. Standing both feet on the same step, dropping your heels backwards down from the step will stretch your calf muscles. You can vary the intensity by moving your feet closer or further from the edge of the step.

Another stretch recommended for your calf muscles is the yoga pose, the downward dog. This pose will stretch your calves in addition to your hamstrings and glutes too. With both your hands and feet on the floor, in an all-fours position, push your hips up towards the ceiling. Keep your heels on the ground and gently try to straighten your knees as shown in this instructional YouTube video:

Devices like a foot rocker can also be one of the most powerful ways to stretch calf muscles. Rolling your foot backwards or forwards you can straighten the knee to work the gastroc muscle or bend the knee to stretch the soleus muscle. A slant board can also be a powerful and comfortable stretch for both the calf muscles. Another gentle and controlled stretch for the calves can be achieved with a stretch strap like those used in yoga.

The Best Calf Stretching Devices

With so many products available that claim to be the best calf-stretching devices, it’s difficult to know which ones work and what to spend your hard-earned cash on. We’ve looked at some top-selling products, to bring you in our opinion five of the best calf-stretching devices available today.

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

One Stretch

Calf-Stretching Device

  • Quality
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This product has been created to give you exactly the right calf stretch to prevent plantar fasciitis or heel pain. Designed with the help of a foot and ankle surgeon the One Stretch uses non-slip sturdy materials to ensure your safety. A graduated curved surface allows you to vary the intensity of stretches putting no additional stress on your knees, hip or back.

The One Stretch has been made so you can rest your back against the wall when using it for extra support. This means it’s more relaxing to use than trying to balance on your tiptoes as with other devices, and can also be used hands free. The support of the wall will prevent you from overstretching, but will also give you the ability to perform more intense stretches with a supported back.

Pros
Pro Variable stretch intensity.
Pro Targets the upper calf with isolated stretches.
Pro Solid molded-plastic construction with non-slip black rubber surface.
Pro Base doesn’t slide when used.
Cons
Con Expensive.
Con Black rubber comes away quickly and marks shoes or surfaces.
Con No instructions provided with device.
 

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

ProStretch

Calf Stretcher and Foot Rocker

  • Quality
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Looking like something from Back to the Future, foot rockers have long been used to stretch both the feet and calves in sync. Recommended by many physiotherapists, foot-rocking devices have been medically proven to provide a deeper and more effective stretch than conventional methods like floor or curb stretching. This set of foot rockers features rubber strips that keep the rockers in place as you stretch.

The rockers hold the feet in an optimal position for the deepest and most effective stretches. You can hopefully just rock away any lower body tightness you may be experiencing. Lightweight and portable, the Prostretch Original Foot Rocker fits adult shoes up to size 13, with a recommended weight limit of 250 pounds.

Pros
Pro Advanced rubber strips on the base prevent it from moving and sliding as you stretch.
Pro Comes in a set of two.
Pro Optimal foot position for deeper stretches.
Pro Lightweight and portable.
Pro Affordable.
Cons
Con Plastic isn’t as strong as other foot rockers which can be made from wood or metal.
Con Rigid plastic can be uncomfortable if not wearing shoes.
Con People with larger feet may find it doesn’t offer enough stretch.
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

Liberty Imports

Wooden Slant Board

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Another popular way of stretching your calves is to use a slant board. A multi-purpose wooden slant board is one of the best stretching devices you can keep in your house. Anti-slip safety treads ensure your safety as you stretch on this stylish wooden board.

You can gradually increase or decrease the stretching of your calves with five adjustable positions from 15 degrees to 35 degrees for your various exercise needs. Slant boards provide an optimal stretch for your feet, ankles, calves, quads, hips and hamstrings. Fully assembled, the board is ready to use out of the box and includes an exercise guide.

Pros
Pro Professional slant board with 300-pound weight capacity.
Pro Easy to adjust the angle for different stretches.
Pro Anti-slip tread.
Pro Stylish wooden finish arrives fully assembled.
Cons
Con Heavy and can’t be folded flat for storage.
Con Compressed wood may have rough edges.
Con No rubber base to protect wooden or polished floors.
Con Platform is too narrow for many when stood with feet at hip-width apart.

Our #4 Rated
Our pick our #4 rated

OPTP

Stretch-Out Strap

  • Quality
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One of the simplest yet most effective ways of stretching your calf muscles is to use a stretching strap for greater control. The first stretching strap on the market in 1993, the OPTP stretch-out strap is still recommended by many professionals today. A 6-foot-4-inch woven nylon strap with 10 individual loops, it’s durable and long lasting unlike many cheaper imitation straps.

What we particularly like about this strap is the 10 individual loopholes which can vary the resistance and tightness of each stretch. You hook the chosen loop around the sole of your foot to give leverage and a feel-good stretch to your calves. A detailed included exercise guide clearly explains over 30 stretches and includes stretches for your calves, hamstrings, quads and just about every other muscle group.

Pros
Pro Durable woven nylon strap which will last longer.
Pro 10 adjustable hoops for varying resistance and depth of stretches.
Pro Includes detailed exercise booklet with anatomical illustrations for quick reference.
Pro Easy to slip into your bag for storage or travel.
Cons
Con Nylon can be rough on the skin surface.
Con Loops are too small for some users with larger feet.
Con No elasticity or give to the strap.
Con Stitching is too weak for heavier individuals.

Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

Sport Safely

Foam Compact Stretch Wedge

  • Quality
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If you’re looking for a slant board but want something more portable than the often cumbersome wooden models, this foam wedge could be the solution. A dense foam free of lead, BPAs and latex, these wedges are sold in pairs which are lightweight and convenient for traveling with. Each single wedge is 14.5 degrees, although you can stack them for a deeper calf stretch at 29 degrees.

Measuring at almost 6 inches across by 9 inches long and 2.5 inches wide, they’re suitable to take anywhere, from the office to the gym or your bedroom. You could use them to warm up and stretch the calf muscles or even put them on a desktop to improve flexibility in your hands and wrists. The dense foam should withstand most weights and they’re great for yoga too.

Pros
Pro Dense foam is more lightweight and easier to transport than bulky wooden board.
Pro Supplied in a pair so you can alter the angle for deeper stretches.
Pro Compact size can be used on any surface including a desktop for hand and wrist exercises.
 
Cons
Con Only two wedges doesn’t offer enough of angle for some deeper calf stretches.
Con Placing extra support underneath can bend or damage the foam.
Con Compact size can be too small for many people.
Con No grip on the bottom and can slip when being used.

Our Choice

Many people would argue that you don’t need any of these devices to stretch your calves. But the best calf-stretching devices can often be a safer and more effective way of stretching those muscles than traditional warm-up exercises. They can also be much easier and reduce the stress you place on your other joints.

Although foot rockers are used by many for stretching the calf muscles, our favourite product was the One Stretch Calf-Stretching Device. A gradual curve on the device means you can vary the depth of your stretch, reserving the deepest stretches for your upper calf where it’s needed most. Made from a durable injection molded plastic, it’s lightweight and portable and in our opinion, the best calf-stretching device you can buy.

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