Body Sense

SUMMER | 2019

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The gastrocnemius is the largest and most superfi cial muscle of the calf, extending from the posterior knee to the heel. It is one of the three triceps surae muscles (triceps = "three heads" and surae = "calf "). The plantaris and soleus are also part of this group. The bulk of the gastrocnemius is divided between two large, symmetrical segments or "heads." If the knee is extending or extended (as when rising from a squatting or seated position or jumping), the gastrocnemius is more active. If the knee is fl exed (as with relaxed walking or static standing), the soleus is more active. GASTROCNEMIUS HOMEWORK: DOWNWARD-FACING DOG POSE To give your gastrocnemius some attention, consider adding this popular yoga pose to your stretching routine. 1. Begin on all fours with knees hip- width apart, hands about a foot in front of your shoulders, and palms fl at. 2. Tuck your toes and lift your hips as you drop your chest back toward your thighs. 3. Keep your knees slightly bent and your wrists and shoulders strong and stable. 4. Keeping your head relaxed, continue lifting your hips up and back as you straighten your knees and drop your heels toward the fl oor. Christy Cael is a licensed massage therapist and certifi ed strength and conditioning specialist. Her private practice focuses on injury treatment, biomechanical analysis, craniosacral therapy, and massage for clients with neurological issues. She is the author of Functional Anatomy: Musculoskeletal Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Palpation for Manual Therapists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009). The Two-Headed Gastrocnemius A Simple Stretch to Keep Your Calf Muscles Happy By Christy Cael Did You Know? Tennis leg is a common tennis player/athlete injury resulting from the tearing of the medial head of the gastrocnemius.—your resource for all things bodywork 15

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