2 3 Technical Tuesday Gastrocnemius | Ballet Webb

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Technical Tuesday Gastrocnemius

Technical Tuesday Gastrocnemius

The gastrocnemius and the soleus are the two major muscles of the calf, and both join onto the Achilles tendon (the strongest and thickest in the body). The word comes originally from the Greek, meaning “stomach of the leg” referring to the way the muscle bulges to form the shape of the calf.

The gastrocnemius actually branches at the top – behind the knee – and the two branches are called the medial and lateral heads. When this muscle flexes during plies or any time the knee bends (for example during walking), it creates traction on the femur, pulling it toward the tibia in the lower leg and allowing the knee to bend (plie). It also allows for plantar flexion of the ankle.

Dancers constantly use this muscle, and because it is worked, it gets stronger. But if it isn’t also stretched, it gets tighter and overuse injuries in this area are common. And, the tighter the calf, the more it irritates the Achilles tendon – not good!

Therefore, dancers must always work (as equally as possible), on both strength and stretch in the calf.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Anatomical Secret #2ec:  
“The Gastrocnemius if one of the two major muscles that make up the calf (the other is the soleus).”

                Link of the Day:

Quote of the Day:
“Practice makes comfort. Expand your experiences regularly
so every stretch won’t feel like your first.”
― Gina Greenlee

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